The concept of New Brutalism has fallen victim to a series of misunderstandings, myths and aporias. The original definition was manipulated, diluted, and finally fragmented. Even today, discussions on New Brutalism are pervaded by ambiguity, confirming the need for a thorough reconstruction of its trajectory. By challenging its current categorization, this book recounts the critical debate around New Brutalism through its many actors, philological incongruities and heroic visions.
New Brutalism emerged in the 1950s as a rebellious response by the younger generation of architects, who infused architecture with popular culture, multidisciplinary influences and a call for reality based on “truth to materials”. It reflected the post-war period’s aspirations and anxieties, revealing the uncertainties of a rapidly changing society. War, reconstruction, mass consumer goods and the ‘atomic age’ became episodes that were translated into several perspectives, radically renewing the notion of architecture. At the heart of this renewal was the debate on New Brutalism, fuelled by the works of architects but above all by the aspirations of critics.
The central core of the book follows the ways New Brutalism was conceptualized – and exploited – by various international protagonists. Its trajectory is double-sided, not only because of the dual identity of New Brutalism and Brutalism, but also because it simultaneously encompasses both the affirmation of ethical and universal values and the pursuit of an aesthetic ideal. Of the exposed-concrete phenomenon of the 1960s, New Brutalism is both the promoter and the victim, caught between the verification of ethical principles and a repetitive obsession with surface finish.
What can we take from the trajectory of New Brutalism and from Reyner Banham’s dilemma between ethics and aesthetics that would accompany it until its ‘sad end’? Ironic, polemical, revolutionary and at times even Dadaist, New Brutalism opened a debate to renew the cultural trajectory of the Modern Movement. Its critical revision steered architecture onto a new course, admitting notions of ‘process’, ‘as found’ and ‘relations’ into the design project. Amongst the intricacies of the debate, we can glimpse the proposal for generative principles integrating a new awareness of flows and technology, intercepting the aspirations of a democratic society, against the backdrop of the search for a visionary synthesis of art, architecture, and urban design.
Publisher: EPFL Press English Imprint
Published: 31 august 2023
Edition: 1st edition
Pages count Book: 272
Format (in mm) Book: 170 x 240
Weight (in grammes): 820
EAN13 Book: 9782889155101