New Books on Brutalism: ‘Raw Concrete’ and ‘Concrete Concepts’

It’s wonderful when a reviewer really engages with your argument. I am thrilled that the superb Municipal Dreams, whose elegant and erudite blog I so admire, should have given Raw Concrete such a thorough examination. Even more pleased that he liked it…

Municipal Dreams

Barnabas Calder, Raw Concrete

coverBrutalism is in vogue and, at the risk of offending a few readers, I’ll admit to being annoyed by some of its fans – those who merely see it as ‘brutal’ and celebrate the fact or the architectural groupies who lack any sense of its context.  I could be annoyed by Barnabas Calder too if he weren’t so charmingly self-deprecating about his own love affair with Brutalism – he describes his falling for the Barbican as a twenty-one year old as his ‘intellectual eyebrow piercing’, the nearest this (self-avowedly) middle-class youth came to youthful rebellion. And if he hadn’t written such a very good book.

Raw Concrete is, in Calder’s words, ‘a rather personal greatest hits of British Brutalism’ but it’s far from the ‘catching the Zeitgeist’ potboiler that might imply.  It’s an eclectic but representative mix and his ability to weave in thoughtful context, telling detail and…

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