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While physically imposing and visually oppressive, Brutalist architecture offers some of the most utilitarian spaces. The style emerged in the 1950s, becoming popular in the 1960s as it was commonly used for government buildings, universities, high-rise housing and parks. Brutalism became the go-to architectural style for social housing solutions, which became especially popular in European communist countries.
Reviled for its unwelcoming aesthetic and increased association with crime and urban decay, many Brutalist structures have been demolished. However, in recent years, the style has gained a newfound popularity, with certain buildings becoming designated architectural landmarks. To coincide with its resurgence, we’ve put together a collection of beautiful hand-drawn architectural sketches that reveal the essence of Brutalist architecture.
Earl W. Brydges Building by Paul Rudolph, 1969-74
Paul Rudolph was one of the United States’ leading architects of the Modernist era. He served as the Chair of Yale University’s School of Architecture for six years and designed the famous Yale Art and Architecture Building, one of the earliest examples of Brutalist architecture in America. Known for his use of concrete and highly complex floor plans, Paul Rudolph’s drawing of his Earl W. Brydges Library in Niagara Falls, New York reflects his unique style.
Orange County Government Center by Paul Rudolph, 1967
A drawing of the Orange County Government Center is the second piece by Paul Rudolph to make this list. It fully embodies the architect’s brutalist style. The drawing reveals the structure’s internal spatial complexity, abundance of concrete and its undulating, cubic façade.
The Barbican by Chamberlin, Powell and Bon, 1982
The Barbican Centre is a highly celebrated example of Brutalism and is one of the most dynamic cultural hubs in London. Designed by architectural practice Chamberlin, Powell and Bon, this cross-section offers insight into the intricacies and scale of this iconic structure.
The Met Breuer by Marcel Breuer, 1966
The Met Breuer was designed by architect Marcel Breuer, opening in 1966. Known for his Brutalist architecture style, Breuer wrapped the museum in concrete and granite. Resembling an upside-down ziggurat, the bunker-like structure has very few windows and relies heavily on artificial lighting. This hand-drawn perspective rendering highlights the museum’s daunting and unique presence amongst its surroundings.
Boston City Hall by Kallmann McKinnell & Knowles, 1968
Referred to as the “World’s Ugliest Building”, Boston City Hall is a massive Brutalist civic structure that is hard to miss. It was constructed in 1968 by architectural design firm Kallmann McKinnell & Knowles. This interior section perspective reveals the grand public space of the building’s north entry hall and its structural system.
Habitat 67 by Moshe Safdie, 1967
Moshe Safdie’s Habitat 67 is an experimental modular housing complex that was presented at the 1967 World Expo in Montreal. Designed as a vision for the future of cities, the project comprises 354 stacked concrete boxes that collectively take the form of a rolling hill. Described as an attempt at a high-rise village, Habitat 67 integrates the benefits of suburban living, including gardens, fresh air, privacy and multi-level environments. This sketch of Habitat 67 highlights its organic shape, modular makeup and unpredictable façade.
Casa Sperimentale by Guiseppe Perugini, Uga de Plaisant and Raynaldo Perugini, 1968-75
Designed by Guiseppe Perugini, Uga de Plaisant and Raynaldo Perugini, Casa Sperimentale was constructed between 1968 and 1975 as an experimental concrete villa. Located in the Italian town of Fregene, near Rome, the building has a Brutalist style formed of geometric shapes, including spherical rooms. It’s entirely modular and is elevated amongst the trees. While it’s now abandoned and in a state of decay, we can still admire this unique treehouse-like residence through this detailed sketch.
Louis Weil Amphitheater by Olivier-Clément Cacoub, 1965
This is a perspective sketch of French architect Olivier-Clément Cacoub’s Louis Weil Amphitheater located in Grenoble, France. Constructed in 1965, the structure has a monolithic form with large slabs extending from its sides.
Stone Flower by Bogdan Bogdanović, 1966
Bogdan Bogdanović was an architect, teacher, writer and urbanist who is known for designing dozens of monuments and memorials across the former Yugslavia commemorating victims and resistance fighters of World War II. One memorial, in particular, which gained international attention after its unveiling in 1966, is Stone Flower. These are a number of the original concept sketches made during the process of designing the structure.
Architecture Sketches: Brutalism by Eric He
Drawn by concept artist, Eric He, this drawing is part of his “Architecture Sketches: Brutalism” series. The scale of the setting is wide, full with large, imposing structures at various elevations. Both futuristic and aged, Eric He’s sketch offers a vivid Brutalist landscape.
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