Beauty and the Brutalists: why this most maligned style must be ...

Ideas

Beauty and the Brutalists: why this most maligned style must be preserved

Brutalist buildings around the world are endangered or lie derelict — even Donald Trump dislikes them

Edwin Heathcote

Donald Trump might now forever be associated with classical architecture, just not necessarily in the way he would have wanted. The image of rioters storming the Capitol building in Washington, DC, this month, snapping selfies and stealing souvenirs, will be the indelible final memory of his tempestuous presidency.

But one of his last acts in office was to issue an executive order that new federal buildings must be built in a classical style. What they should not be, it specified, is Brutalist. This is how it was defined: “Brutalist means the style of architecture that grew out of the early 20th-century Modernist movement that is characterised by a huge and block-like appearance with a rigid geometric style and large-scale use of exposed poured concrete.”

For a big builder, Trump seems to have misunderstood the moment. Brutalism has been over as a way of building for about 40 years. No new US government buildings are in danger of being Brutalist...

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