Brutalism Redux: Relational Monumentality and the Urban Politics of Brutalist Architecture

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Brutalism is an architectural form that is experiencing somewhat of a revival of late. This revival focuses almost purely on its aesthetics, but there is an ethical dimension to Brutalism that often gets overlooked in these narratives. This paper therefore reanalyses the original concepts and ethics of brutalist architecture with a reaffirmation of the original triumvirate of brutalist ethics as articulated by Raynar Banham as monumentality, structural honesty and materials “as found”. The paper then articulates these through the literature on architectural affect to argue that brutalist ethics are continually “enacted” via a relational monumentality that brings the building and its inhabitants together in the practice of inhabitation. Using the case study of Robin Hood Gardens in London, the paper posits that a “brutalist politics” comes into light that can help catalyse a broader critique of contemporary neoliberalism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)701-720
Number of pages20
Issue number3
Early online date7 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017

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