London’s brutalist architecture is enjoying a new wave of appreciation. Peter Chadwick, graphic designer and author of ‘This Brutal World’, picks six of his favourite examples
This optimistic modern ‘utopia’ on the edge of Richmond Park was built in the 1950s. It was designed by a team of architects led by Leslie Martin, who had previously worked on the Royal Festival Hall. Five ‘floating’ blocks of flats inspired by Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation in Marseille are the focal point of the estate.
Architects Chamberlin, Powell and Bon came together in 1952, after Geoffry Powell won the competition to design the Golden Lane Estate. The Barbican project followed shortly after. Look beyond the show-stopping towers and you’ll find covered walkways, lush green areas and a lake. Barbican Centre runs regular architecture tours. www.barbican.org.uk.
This previously unloved building is today appreciated by a wider audience. Walk under Waterloo Bridge on a late summer’s afternoon and watch the shadows move around its concrete façade. One of my favourite brutalist views. National Theatre runs regular architecture tours. www.nationaltheatre.org.uk.
Alexandra & Ainsworth Estate
Camden has the highest number of post-war listed housing estates in London. The Rowley, as it is known to residents, was completed in 1978. Beyond the imposing exterior wall – visible from Euston-bound trains – is a vibrant community living in more than 500 light, airy and well-proportioned apartments.
Minories Car Park
My concrete guilty pleasure is a car park. It’s one of the finest in London, tucked away behind Tower Gateway DLR station and boasting more concrete textures than you can shake a stick at. The rough street-level wall is topped off by a precast concrete grid that encases the upper levels. Parking has never been so much fun.
This 1960s estate in Poplar was designed by Hungarian architect Ernö Goldfinger. The site comprises the famous Balfron Tower and Glenkerry and Carradale Houses. The heroic structures in this corner of east London have been the inspiration for my ‘This Brutal House’ design project since I moved to the area in 2001.
'This Brutal World' by Peter Chadwick is published by Phaidon at £29.95. Follow him on twitter @BrutalHouse.