Raw Concrete by Barnabas Calder
A Field Guide to British Brutalism

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It makes the book an engaging and accessible guide for those drawn towards these ex-monstrosities, and for those who wonder what it’s all about.
-Guardian

Synopsis

A unique guide to architecture, and a radical, personal and entertaining appraisal of eight of Britain's most controversial buildings.
     Béton brut or 'raw concrete' was a term coined by Le Corbusier and appropriated by two young British architects in the 1950s to describe a new kind of building: austere, unadorned, monolithic, confrontational and constructed almost entirely in concrete. 
     Brutalist architecture blossomed in Britain in the second half of the twentieth century, with planners favouring its functionality and low costs for social housing projects, government buildings and shopping centres. But as the school spread, so its reputation foundered, with Brutalism quickly becoming synonymous with crime, economic deprivation and inner-city decay. 
     In the twenty-first century, Brutalist buildings are just as prominent, and just as pilloried -- seen by many as 'spiky survivors of the sixties'. But there is another side to Brutalism, one of artistic vision, political idealism and painstaking attention to detail: a school of architecture to celebrate, not destroy.
     Raw Concrete provides a groundbreaking history of the heavy-concrete architecture of post-war Britain, as well as a personal and illuminating guide to eight pivotal Brutalist buildings. Beginning in a tiny concrete hermitage on the remote north Scottish coast, and ending up backstage at the National Theatre, Raw Concrete takes us on a wide-ranging journey through Britain over the past sixty years, stopping to examine how these buildings were made -- from commission to construction -- why they have been so hated, and why they should be loved.
 

About Barnabas Calder

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Barnabas Calder is a historian of architecture specialising in British architecture since 1945. He is lecturer at the University of Liverpool, and is compiling an online archive on the work of Sir Denys Lasdun, funded by the Graham Foundation and in collaboration with the RIBA British Architectural Library Special Collections.
 
Published May 24, 2016 by William Heinemann. 384 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Arts & Photography.
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Guardian

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Reviewed by Rowan Moore on Apr 18 2016

It makes the book an engaging and accessible guide for those drawn towards these ex-monstrosities, and for those who wonder what it’s all about.

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