Is Brutalism back?

Brutalist architecture is now in the midst of a revival. Yet this enthusiasm for old Brutalist buildings has not translated into any real-world desire to start building mass housing in the Brutalist style. After so many years of being maligned as ugly and dehumanising, why is Brutalism being appreciated now? Some insist it is simply about the severe beauty of the buildings, others contend it shows a nostalgia for the post-war era and its commitment to a social housing policy, particularly as London is in the midst of a housing crisis. Should we preserve Brutalist architecture purely for aesthetic reasons, or is there something to be said for reviving the future-oriented philosophy behind the aesthetic? Love them or hate them, this illuminating panel filmed at the Battle of Ideas in the ‘brutalist’ Barbican will fill you in, from ‘dereliction porn’ to ‘radical nostalgia’ to let’s build optimism to the trap they represented for many, there is plenty to consider.

The speakers are: Dr Barnabas Calder, senior lecturer, University of Liverpool School of Architecture, author, Raw Concrete: The Beauty of Brutalism; Lucy Dunn, Assistant Venue Manager, Barbican Centre, runs Barbican Architecture Tours; Penny Lewis, lecturer, Scott Sutherland School of Architecture, Robert Gordon University, co-founder, AE Foundation; John McRae, director, Orms; Sebastian Messer, chartered architect, senior lecturer, Northumbria University. The chair is Michael Owens, commercial director, Bow Arts Trust, owner, London Urban Visits, formerly, head of development policy, London Development Agency.