Reyner Banham from “The New Brutalism” 1955

Reyner Banham The new Brutalism Presentation

The word ‘brutalism’ as Reyner Banham deployed it in his 1955 article ‘The new brutalism’ had a double valence. Architecturally, it evoked the idea of béton brut (raw concrete) as well as Le Corbusier’s celebration of ‘matières brutes’ (raw materials), which Banham quoted at the beginning of his 1955 essay on new brutalism.[1]

Reyner Banham was one of the most influential writers on architecture, design, and popular culture from the mid1950s to the late 1980s. Banham entered the London University in 1945 to study art history. During this time, he wrote criticism on contemporary architecture for The Architectural Review and other journals. As a critic, he particularly espoused modernist architecture. Banham wrote his thesis under Nikolaus Pevsner at the Warburg, Theory and Design in the First Machine Age which appeared as a book in 1960.[2]

Brutalism is an architectural style that spawned from the modernist architectural movement and which flourished from the 1950s to the 1970s. Brutalist building typically contains poured concrete. Brutalist buildings usually are formed with striking repetitive angular geometries, and, where concrete is used, often revealing the texture of the wooden forms used for the in-situ casting. Banham defined Brutalist buildings as being formal legibility of a plan, clear exhibition of structure and valuation of materials ‘as found.[3]

Brutalist architecture was a reaction to the white cube functionalist architecture of the pre-war heroes of the modern movement. Where their bricks were rendered and painted white to look like a machine finished concrete surface, the Brutalists wanted to be honest about the material surfaces, to leave brick unpainted and un-plastered, and the shutter-work exposed on concrete. Even the services were to be surface mounted and on display, as were the joints between materials, wherever possible. This was all documented in Banham’s book, beginning with the Smithson’s Hunstanton School.[4]

The Hunstanton School was the first accepted New Brutalist building, even before it was finished in 1954 by Alison and Peter Smithson. Hunstanton, and Soho, can serve as the points of architectural reference by which The New Brutalism in architecture may be defined.[5] Banham described the school as being “almost unique among modern buildings in being made of what it appears to be made of ”.[6] At the time, a lot of the modern buildings being built had a whitewashed appearance, despite being constructed out of steel or concrete. The Hunstanton School was completely honest about it’ s materiality. Unadorned walls are left in brick, the ceiling was left as open framework, concrete slabs are left bare and columns and beams were left as steel. Even water and electricity are honest about their delivery, as the pipe work is visible.[7] “One can see what Hunstanton is made of, and how it works, and there is not another thing to see except the play of spaces”.[8]

Another brutalist structure was the Robin Hood Gardens that being a residential estate in London designed in the late 1960s by architects Alison and Peter Smithson. Highly visible examples of Brutalist architecture. It was intended as an example of the ‘streets in the sky’ concept: Social housing characterized by broad aerial walkways in long concrete blocks. It was a reaction against Le Corbusier’ s Unite d’Habitation. It covers about two hectares and consists of two blocks, one of ten stories, the other of seven, built from precast concrete slabs and containing 213 flats.[9]

Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, as Le Corbusier had concrete, another of the brutalists idols had done the same with steel.  Mies van der Rohe, particularly with the Illinois Institute of Technology, “had made and honest use of steel as a builders’ material, employing it, not as an abstract ideal of structural stiffness, but as a real substance having surface, substance and character of its own, and structural habits as reliable and as comprehensible as those of brick or masonry.” Although Mies Van der Rohe was a pioneers of the modern architecture, materials in his buildings are revealed and showed clearly and Brutalism movement was based by his works in the direction of Peter & Alison Smithson.[10]

The idea of leaving materials unfinished was influenced by Le Corbusier’s expressionist period after the war, where his designs took on a much more monumental and heavier style. He described the construction of his buildings as ‘beton brut’ as the concrete was not rendered or painted but left rough in a very cheap way. The board marks of the concrete, and the hand marks of the workers were all left exposed. This can be seen in the ‘Unité d’Habitation’ in Marseille, which was finished in 1952.[11] Unité d’Habitation was the best known early Brutalist architecture is the work of the Swiss Architect Le Corbusier. Corbusier created his own modular inspired from the human proportions and the golden section and the concept formed the basis of several housing developments designed by him throughout Europe with this name, and to create a whole neighborhood in one building. He put the five principles of modern architecture in his vision. [12]

In his article Banham noted that “only one other building conspicuously carries these qualities in the way that Hunstanton does, and that is Louis Kahn’s Yale Art Centre.”[13] Like the school, the Yale Art Centre exhibited its materiality and structural method honestly. The exterior of the building features a monolithic brick façade along the side of the building, and the front is a curtain of steel and glazing. This restrained use of raw materials gives the interior a rich quality and creates a simple and dignified environment in which art can be displayed. The Yale Art Centre was accepted by some Brutalists, but not all. [14] According to the Reyner Banham, the building offers an exact equipartition of the plan contributes little to its functional organization or the visual experience of the visitor. In other words, no significant architectural promenade arose out of the rhythm of the structural grid or at least not one that in any way transcended the sporadic and ever- changing disposition of the gallery partitions.[15]

The another significant architect was the Paul Marvin Rudolph in that term. His most famous work is the Yale Art and Architecture Building, a spatially complex brutalist concrete structure. It was Completed in 1963, the building is formed of intersecting volumes of bush-hammered concrete. Smooth concrete and glass horizontal elements are supported by a sequence of towers that protrude above the roof in a series of turrets.[16]

In the term of brutalism, much of the criticism comes not only from the designs of the buildings, but also from the fact that concrete façades do not age well in damp, cloudy maritime climates such as those of northwestern Europe. In these climates, the concrete becomes streaked with water stains and sometimes with moss and lichens, and rust leaches from the steel reinforcing bars.[17]

 

References

[1] Potts, A. (2012). Realism, Brutalism, Pop. Art History, 35(2), 288-313.
[2] https://dictionaryofarthistorians.org/banham
[3] Reyner Banham, The New Brutalism: Ethic or Aesthetic? (London: The Architectural Press, 1966)
[4] Banham, Architectural Design 23 (9) (1953): 238-48.
[5] Risselada, M., Smithson, A. M., & Smithson, P. (2011). Alison & Peter Smithson: A critical anthology. Barcelona: Polígrafa.
[6] Banham, Reyner (1955), The Architectural Review
[7] New Brutalism: The major ideas that characterized the architectural movement. (n.d.).

Retrieved from http://dvqlxo2m2q99q.cloudfront.net/new brutalism
[8] Banham, Reyner (1955), The Architectural Review
[9] Contemporary Architecture Dr. Yasir Sakr Presentation Retrieved from http://slideplayer.com/slide/4242852/
[10]Frampton, K. (1992). Modern architecture: A critical history. London: Thames and Hudson.
[11] New Brutalism: The major ideas that characterized the architectural movement. (n.d.).

Retrieved from http://dvqlxo2m2q99q.cloudfront.net/new brutalism
[12] Contemporary Architecture Dr. Yasir Sakr Presentation

Retrieved from http://slideplayer.com/slide/4242852/
[13] Banham, Reyner (1955), The Architectural Review pp. 355-361
[14] New Brutalism: The major ideas that characterized the architectural movement. (n.d.).

Retrieved from http://dvqlxo2m2q99q.cloudfront.net/new brutalism
[15] Frampton, K. (1992). Modern architecture: A critical history. London: Thames and Hudson.
[16] Contemporary Architectural Trends and Theories

Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/deepika911/brutalism-53070393?next_slideshow=1
[17] Contemporary Architectural Trends and Theories

Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/deepika911/brutalism-53070393?next_slideshow=1

 

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Tony Garnier from An Industrial City

 

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Tony Garnier

The industrial revolution had the effect of bringing more and more people from the countryside into the heart of the city looking for work. Such dramatic overpopulation and unrestricted urban growth led to slum housing, dirty, disease and a lack of communal green spaces within the city landscape. After that term, modern urban planning arose in response to this disorder. Reformation of these areas was the objective of the early city planners, who began to impose regulatory laws establishing housing standards for housing, sanitation etc. Urban planners also introduced parks, playground in the city neighborhoods, for recreation as well as visual relief. The notion of zoning was a major concept of urban planning at this time. Some urban planners worked on urban planning and one of them was the Tony Garnier.

Who was the Tony Garnier? He was an French architect and city planner. He was most active in his hometown of Lyon. On the other hand, he studied on sociological and architectural problems. His basic idea included the separation of spaces by function through zoning into several categories. Tony Garnier first produced plan for the ideal industrial town in 1904. In industrial city of Tony Garnier, he determine general standards of city and with these standards. He developed some designs that supplied people’s materially and morally needs.

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Garnier ‘s proposal was an industrial city for approx 35.000 inhabitants situated on a area in southeast France on a plateau with high land and a lake to the north, a valley and river to the south. He envisaged a town of segregated uses with a residential area, a train station quarter and an industrial zone. Concept of zoning was strongly similar with Ebenezer Howard  Garden Cities of To-morrow because he divided the city into three parts as well like Garnier. Garnier tries to take into account all aspects of the city including governmental, residential, manufacturing and agricultural practices. The various function of the city were clearly related, but separated from each from by location and patterns. The city of labor divided into Four main Functions: Work, housing, health and leisure. The public area at the heart of the city was grouped into three sections: Administrative services and assembly halls, museum collections and sport facilities.

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Region of station is centre of the city and it includes all public trade facilities together. A railway passes between the factory and the city, which is on a plateau, and further up are the medical facilities.

The residential area is made up of rectangular blocks running east-west which gives the city its characteristic elongated form. This is the location of the houses ( in the picture) and the houses was situated into the large green areas to benefit from sun and fresh air. The residential districts are the first attempt towards passive solar architecture. Garnier had energy efficiently in mind as the city was to be powered by a hydroelectric station with a dam which was located  in the mountains along with the hospital.

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It was the illustration of assembly building. The industrial city resembles the ideal city in Emile Zola’s Travail. Assembly hall has inspiration from it. Also Tony Garnier supported the variety of arts, so many artistic and social facilities was thought.

Another significant region was the hospital area. Medical practice of that time was almost totally without the tools and treatments not in common use, but it had become apparent that sunshine and pure air were helpful in overcoming many diseases. There was a movement toward breaking down big hospitals into units called pavilions, thus giving patients close relationship to these amenities and making them feel more relaxed than if they were in a huge crowded environment.

HOSPİTAL TONY

Tony Garnier was the one of the pioneers of the modern architecture in terms of material. The materials used are concrete for the foundations and walls, and reinforced concrete for floors and ceilings. All important buildings are constructed of reinforced concrete.

Another innovation that reflect on the city plan is equality between people. When asked why his city contained no law courts, police stations, jail or church, he is said to have replied that the new society governed by socialist law. All of them brings about socialism theory.  Tony  Garnier was the socialist person. Charles Fourier who French philosopher and an influential early socialist thinker later associated with “utopian socialism” and Henri de Saint-Simon who French political and economic theorist and businessperson. They were supporters of the socialism theory in that terms.

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Tony’ s industrial city is one of the most comprehensive idea plans of all time. Garnier’ s industrial city was never built, but he contributed to the further planners such as Le Corbusier. Corbusier was the first well- known architect to discuss about Garnier’ s works. After the industrial city project, Garnier designed many projects that built in Lyon.

 

References