My interest for the topic of my dissertation started at the beginning of my first master at the Royal College of Art. The whole year we did projects in Margate, an English east coast town. For the first semester I was assigned to the Arlington House, a significant brutalist tower block. After digging into the past and the architectural elements of the building I was intrigued by the brutalist way of building.
This brought me to my first question: Why do I admire this style? How come I like these big heavy chunks of concrete? Is it because of the repetitive shapes? The material use? The brutalist aesthetic dates mainly from the 60s and 70s, and has become related to other celebrations of mid-century modern. Why does the brutalist style feel current and exciting for someone of my generation?
I have also noticed I am not the only person interested in brutalism. At the beginning of 2016, several lectures about brutalism were programmed and a lot of books appeared about the subject. On trend websites brutalism was THE topic! There is a certain buzz, enough to speak of a brutalism revival. Which brings me to my second question: Why is there a revival of the brutalist movement? Brutalism is increasingly popular among students, designers, architects. Why is that? Could it be the ambitious scale of the projects or the emotional power of the forms that makes brutalism so attractive? Or is it the idea of living in a megastructure and sharing amenities? Or are there other reasons why brutalism is revisited by many architects, writers, etc., nowadays?
After going to lectures and events, reading books and looking at a lot of photographs and hear people talking about brutalism, my last question is: What is a brutalist interior? Why are people always talking about brutalist architecture, but never about a brutalist interior? Does a typical brutalist interior even exist? Does it reflect the exterior? Is there a cohesion between the exterior and the interior?
My dissertation was a search into the uprising trend of brutalism. It explored the idea of a brutalist interior mainly by looking at the interiors designed for Arlington House in Margate, the Barbican and the Trellick Tower in London and the house Van Wassenhove in Sint-Martens- Latem, Belgium.
I wanted to try to understand what the design priorities of the time were and how they contributed to a way of living. It was also an inner search into what I admire about the brutalist way of building.
In the next few blogs I will show some interior impressions from the The Barbican, the Trellick Tower and The House Van Wassenhove through pictures and will write a synopsis of my conclusion.