by Barnabas Calder
The raw concrete buildings of the 1960s constitute the greatest flowering of architecture the world has ever seen. The biggest construction boom in history promoted unprecedented technological innovation and an explosion of competitive creativity amongst architects, engineers and concrete-workers. The Brutalist style was the result.
Today, after several decades in the shadows, attitudes towards Brutalism are slowly changing, but it is a movement that is still overlooked, and grossly underrated.
Raw Concrete overturns the perception of Brutalist buildings as the penny-pinching, utilitarian products of dutiful social concern. Instead it looks a little closer, uncovering the luxuriously skilled craft and daring engineering with which the best buildings of the 1960s came into being: magnificent architectural visions serving clients rich and poor, radical and conservative.
Beginning in a tiny hermitage on the remote north Scottish coast, and ending up backstage at the National Theatre, Raw Concrete embarks on a wide-ranging journey through Britain over the past sixty years, stopping to examine how eight extraordinary buildings were made – from commission to construction – why they have been so vilified, and why they are beginning to be loved. In it, Barnabas Calder puts forward a powerful case: Brutalism is the best architecture there has ever been, and perhaps the best there ever will be.