You may think the term brutalist architecture could be referring to strange torture room blueprints or even just impressive curtain walls that stand before castles like faithful sentries. It’s actually defined as the most hated architecture style, even among scholars.
Brutalist architecture is the boxed in concrete designs that are left unfinished and rough looking, despite their modern aesthetic. While these buildings are common in inner cities the most prevalent pop culture examples can be found in Blade Runner 2049 and even in the original Blade Runner movie. The film features hulking, dark, bare-concrete shapes that rise out of the horizon as the cruiser traverses through the air. Because of their unorthodox styling and off-kilter aesthetic these buildings are widely regarded as unsightly and are being demolished at an alarming rate. Which makes it so much more interesting when the gentle lines of the mid-century modern design start to lean closer to the brutalist style when it’s displayed in contemporary architecture.
To give pop culture another nod, you can note that within the previously mentioned Blade Runner movies that brutalist design is the only prevalent building design available. From the harsh angles within Wallace’s office to Tyrell’s dominating pyramid building covered in glittering lights and shadow, you can begin to see the outlines of contemporary design elements. There’s really only a couple of definite differences: contemporary architecture is usually accompanied with a lighter design and with more plant life. The clean-cut lines, well-defined, individualistic structures and sharp– even harsh– angles are all in the same vein as a brutalist structure.
This concept is fascinating when you consider the history of brutalist architecture in comparison to how contemporary architecture is used today. Brutalist architecture was pioneered by Le Corbusier who applied the style during the 1950s. You’ll notice that brutalist buildings imitate an above-ground bunker. It was supposed to be an option for government buildings and metropolis buildings that was an alternative to the somewhat vulnerable all-steel and all-glass designs that were in style during that time.
Brutalism became especially popular during the 60s and 70s because it was affordable, but mostly because architects and officials were both worried about civic unrest damaging the property. Brutalist architecture found new life in being a style that could assert dominance and an impenetrable feeling. This is demonstrated in the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington D.C., but the style is even more noticeable in fantasy depictions of brutalism.
You can see brutalist architecture as a symbol of power in films like The Clockwork Orange, Hunger Games within the capitol, Azkaban Prison from Harry Potter, as well as all over the Blade Runner world. The presence of this style within the Blade Runner world is particularly interesting. The Blade Runner films are based on the Philip K. Dick novel “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?” which was published in 1968, during the height of brutalist architecture. Thus it’s easy to determine that the cinematic decision to include strictly brutalist architecture in the landscapes of the future of L.A. Presumably, the prevalence was based on the power dynamic humans have over their robotic slaves. The entire city was built as a symbol of human innovation and the unrelenting power of industrialism. If you apply these ideas to how brutalism has influenced contemporary architecture you can start to see a certain symbolic similarity.
Contemporary architecture is now used in the same way that brutalism was once used, to express power. You can see contemporary architecture finding a foothold in government buildings, or the headquarters of successful companies. However, there remains a distinctive difference between brutalist and contemporary architecture in the sense that contemporary design expresses its power and its individuality with a definitive serenity. Where brutalism forces it’s superiority down the viewer’s throat so much that it’s hated, contemporary design merely displays its distinctive, beautiful qualities that asserts its power passively. It’s calculated and measured but it’s remains anything but brutal.
For this reason, contemporary architecture is truly exceptional in luxury homes. It’s not imitating a Mediterranean villa or an Irish castle, it’s clearly confident in its own design and how it enhances the space around it. It easily displays that you’re different physically and symbolically because you don’t need to be overt about your individuality, you are just completely unparalleled without contest.
At ALT-254, we understand how to be understated and still completely unique. When you build with an architecture company like ALT-254, you’re building more than a modern luxury home, you’re crafting a status symbol that will represent your way of life. You’re a measured, calculated individual, build a home that’s reflective of those features with contemporary architecture and design. Contact ALT-254 to get started on crafting a symbol and a house for your Hong Kong property.