IN: Inspiration


In a hyper-saturated world, Neo-Brutalism offers a refreshing design approach.


The English translation of béton brut, literally meaning exposed concrete – is a fundamental motivation behind Brutalism. It was known in the past as an architectural style that expressed somewhat authoritarian tendencies. It also has a posthumous reputation that has labelled many of its defining structures as “concrete monstrosities”. Yet the term ‘Brutalism’ is, at times, a misnomer.


Drawing on the pioneering work of Le Corbusier and the distillation of his supremely modernist principles, buildings constructed in the Brutalist style represent an uncompromising vision of the future; a utopian world of contemporary lines and solid forms that heralded an era of efficiency and progress. Although becoming synonymous with the idea of brutality, the term actually derives from the English translation of béton brut, literally meaning exposed concrete – a fundamental motivation behind Brutalism. In an assertive stance and contrary to popular taste at the time, Brutalism valued surface treatments that celebrated the textural possibilities of concrete. Working in conjunction with uniform elements and grand-scale proportions, the use of large expanses of concrete expressed the practicality, durability and functionality of structures.


It is therefore not surprising that in a world hyper-saturated with stimuli, we find that design trends are increasingly veering towards sleek minimalism and far greater simplicity. Excitingly, Neo-Brutalism is rapidly gaining prominence under this new stylistic direction. It is a design approach that eschews the superfluous and focuses on stripped-down forms, a tonal palette of cool greys and beige, and the utilisation of an urban utilitarian aesthetic. This direction can be seen in a range of products such as Erica Wakerly’s Form Wallpaper, the beauteous featured Bildmaterial Vases by German industrial designer, Hanne Willman, as well as the fantastic BEAM lamp with which PPC Imaginarium winner, August de Wet, wowed judges in this year’s competition.


It is also an approach that Mexican architect-turned-artist, Pedro Reyes, has taken to heart in the creation of his own home. Featuring custom-made concrete furniture as well as hammered concrete walls, the über-modern home takes direct inspiration from the work of Mexican architect, Teodoro González de León, who pioneered Brutalism in Mexico. Showcasing the multitude of ways in which concrete can be shaped and finished, it is undeniably an architectural classic in the making!

With plenty of possibilities when working with concrete and the application of exciting, new technology, it remains to be seen where the futuristic spirit of Brutalism will lead us next!

All images supplied by Hanne Willmann:

Related Articles