IN: Inspiration

Brutalism Gets A Stylish Twist

This home in Mexico City elevates concrete into a stylish homage to Brutalist architecture.

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Concrete has been crucial to construction since at least 1893, when US inventor George W. Bartholomew built the first concrete pavement. Since then, modern builders have used it for everything from skyscrapers to suburban townhouses. Though concrete’s benefits include strength and durability, however, its distinct texture became a hallmark of Brutalist architecture during the mid-20th century.

Brutalist architecture is defined typically by sharp angles and a liberal use of raw concrete elements. The home of creative couple Pedro Reyes and Carla Fernandez, however, approaches the style from a relaxed vantagepoint, disrupting the grey palette with bright splashes, artwork, sculptural fittings and a range of decorative elements.

PPC Imaginarium

Known as Pedro Reyes House, the home features distinct elements in which raw concrete, placed in various degrees of coarseness, contrast with stone paving, cacti, paintwork and mismatched furniture. The bold patchwork consists of a double-height lounge, family bathroom, a master bedroom and two children’s bedrooms, and was built for Reyes (a sculptor), Fernandez (a fashion designer) and their two children.

The main living area is most reminiscent of Brutalism, dominated by a range of concrete textures and surfaces. The main hallmarks of Brutalism – block-like forms and raw concrete – are embodied in the bookcase that stretches across one wall of the lounge area. Concrete slabs form shelves and partitions, the uppermost of which are accessed by a raw concrete gallery – itself reached by a cantilever staircase made from concrete.

PPC Imaginarium

The living area would seem grim with its hard lines rendered in raw concrete, but the designers ward off austerity by including mismatched furniture, a single sculpture and a raised platform made from irregular stone paving. Natural light enters through skylights and is matched at floor level by green fronds; in this way, crudeness makes way for raw authenticity.

In the bathroom, grey shades morph into a range of statement features, including a sink moulded to resemble turned pottery. The stone bathtub resembles a rock pool and is lit from above by a large skylight.

PPC Imaginarium

Brightening the space even further, several surfaces are adorned with splashes of yellow and vermillion. The paintwork contrasts with a palette of otherwise mostly greys yet brings out coarse concrete’s raw authenticity.

The design evidenced by Pedro Reyes House harks back to the movement in which concrete served an aesthetic function. The presence of art, stonework, bright colours and decorative elements, however, elevate the material into a form of stylish Brutalism.

Photography: Edmund Sumner

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