[Exhibition] “SOS Brutalism Save the Concrete Monsters!” at Architekturzentrum Wien

May 3, 2018

Love it or hate it, the rediscovered Brutalist architecture leaves nobody cold. The exhibition presents international and outstanding Austrian examples highlighting the projects’ architectural and social relevance.

 

 IACP (Carlo Celli / Luciano Celli): Rozzol Melara, Trieste, Italy, 1969–1982 Photo: Paolo Mazzo 2010

IACP (Carlo Celli / Luciano Celli): Rozzol Melara, Trieste, Italy, 1969–1982 Photo: Paolo Mazzo 2010

 

For several decades Brutalist buildings were vilified as architectural eyesores, and torn down or left to decay. Does the current hype herald a reversal in this trend? The global online initiative SOS Brutalism – which has already compiled over 1000 buildings in a database (www.SOSBrutalism.org) – inspired a major exhibition project at the Deutsches Architekturmuseum in Frankfurt. The exhibition to have emerged from the global online platform offers, for the first time, a world-wide survey of Brutalist buildings completed on every continent between 1853 and 1979. What societal developments, which architectural and political ideas provide the context for this international phenomenon? However the exhibition also pursues the question of whether Brutalism can even be defined, or how, and addresses possible strategies for renovation in line with accepted conservation practice.


 

Practical Information

“SOS Brutalism Save the Concrete Monsters!”
May 3  – August 6, 2018
Architekturzentrum Wien
Museumsplatz 1, Vienna
Austria

 


Brutalist architecture celebrates raw, bare construction. It is exceptionally photogenic and hugely popular on Facebook and Instagram. That said many only see brutal concrete monsters. The expressive buildings emerged in a time of experiments and social change. Today many are at risk of demolition. In light of this the rescue campaign #SOSBrutalism extends the exhibition online with a database of over 1000 projects.

 

John S. Bonnington Partnership (JSBP) / Kuwait Engineering Office (KEO): Souq Al-Muttaheda / Souq Al Masseel, Kuwait City, Kuwait, 1973–1979 Photo: Nelson Garrido 2013

John S. Bonnington Partnership (JSBP) / Kuwait Engineering Office (KEO): Souq Al-Muttaheda / Souq Al Masseel, Kuwait City, Kuwait, 1973–1979
Photo: Nelson Garrido 2013

John Madin: Birmingham City Library, Birmingham, Great Britain, 1969–1973, demolished in 2016 Photo: Jason Hood 2016

John Madin: Birmingham City Library, Birmingham, Great Britain, 1969–1973, demolished in 2016 Photo: Jason Hood 2016

 

Unusually large cardboard models and 25 sculptural concrete models in the exhibition clearly convey the fascination and quality of Brutalist architecture. The extensive collection of the Architekturzentrum Wien is a rich resource for the special focus on Austria added especially for Vienna, and enables us to show great original material, including models, photographs, sketches and plans. The ten Austrian highlights range from iconographic buildings, like the Wotruba church, to less well-known examples, such as the Oblatenkloster by Johann Pleyer in Vienna-Hietzing, or the Mariannhill boarding school in Landeck by the recently deceased Tyrolean architect Norbert Heltschl – some of which are in acute danger of demolition or modification.

Back in 2012, with the ‘Soviet Modernism 1955-1991’ exhibition and the database compiled in parallel to it, the Az W was substantially responsible for the international rediscovery of Brutalist architecture. With the hosting of and addition to the exhibition ‘SOS Brutalism’ we are joining in this work and reacting to rising interest in the architecture of the 1950s to 1970s, which occupies an key place in the Az W Collection. A cooperation by the Deutsches Architekturmuseum and the Wüstenrot Stiftung, for a focus on Austria added by the Architekturzentrum Wien.

 

 IACP (Carlo Celli / Luciano Celli): Rozzol Melara, Trieste, Italy, 1969–1982 Photo: Paolo Mazzo 2010

IACP (Carlo Celli / Luciano Celli): Rozzol Melara, Trieste, Italy, 1969–1982 Photo: Paolo Mazzo 2010

London Borough of Camden Architect’s Department (Neave Brown): Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate, London, Great Britain, 1967–1979 Photo: Gili Merin 2017

London Borough of Camden Architect’s Department (Neave Brown): Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate, London, Great Britain, 1967–1979 Photo: Gili Merin 2017

 

#SOSBrutalism is a growing database that currently contains over 1000 Brutalist buildings. But, more importantly, it is a platform for a large campaign to save our beloved concrete monsters. The buildings in the database marked red are in particular jeopardy. This is an unprecedented initiative: #SOSBrutalism is open to everyone who wants to join the campaign to save Brutalist buildings! It is a powerful tool that allows fans of Brutalism to communicate with one another across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and so on. You can follow our social media feeds below.

 

Kallmann McKinnell & Knowles / Campbell, Aldrich & Nulty: Boston City Hall, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, 1962–1969 Photo: Bill Lebovic 1981

Kallmann McKinnell & Knowles / Campbell, Aldrich & Nulty: Boston City Hall, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, 1962–1969
Photo: Bill Lebovic 1981

Warren & Mahoney: Christchurch Town Hall, Christchurch, New Zealand, 1972 Photo: Warren & Mahoney, c. 1972

Warren & Mahoney: Christchurch Town Hall, Christchurch, New Zealand, 1972 Photo: Warren & Mahoney, c. 1972

 

…what characterises the New Brutalism…is precisely its brutality, its je-m’en-foutisme, its bloody-mindedness.
Reyner Banham, 1955

#SOSBrutalism will also lead into an exhibition which will be jointly organized by the Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM) and the Wüstenrot Stiftung. It will be on display at the DAM, Frankfurt am Main, Germany, starting in November 2017.

 

Johannes Möhrle: Central Post Office, Marburg, Germany, 1965–1976 Photo: Felix Torkar 2017

Johannes Möhrle: Central Post Office, Marburg, Germany, 1965–1976 Photo: Felix Torkar 2017

Fritz Wotruba: Holy Trinity Church, Wien-Mauer, Austria, 1971–1976 Photo: Wolfgang Leeb 2011

Fritz Wotruba: Holy Trinity Church, Wien-Mauer, Austria, 1971–1976 Photo: Wolfgang Leeb 2011

 

What exactly is Brutalism anyway? The term was coined in the 1950s by a young generation of architects and architecture critics in Great Britain who used the expression “New Brutalism” to distance themselves from the dreariness of post-war architecture. Architecture critic Reyner Banham described the Hunstanton School by Alison and Peter Smithson (and their unrealized Soho House) as “points of architectural reference by which the New Brutalism in architecture may be defined” and names three characteristics: “1, Memorability as an image; 2, Clear exhibition of structure; and 3, Valuation of materials ‘as found’. ”

 

Rinaldo Olivieri: La Pyramide, Abidjan, Ivory Coast, 1968–1973

Rinaldo Olivieri: La Pyramide, Abidjan, Ivory Coast, 1968–1973

Brigitte Parade / Christoph Parade: High School, Hückelhoven, Germany, 1963–1974 Photo: Christoph Parade c. 1974

Brigitte Parade / Christoph Parade: High School, Hückelhoven, Germany, 1963–1974 Photo: Christoph Parade c. 1974

Alexander Belokon / V. Sulimova: Gosstroy Residential Building, Baku, Aserbaijan, 1975 Photo: Simona Rota 2011

Alexander Belokon / V. Sulimova: Gosstroy Residential Building, Baku, Aserbaijan, 1975 Photo: Simona Rota 2011

Jesús Sandoval / Tomás Lugo Marcano / Dietrich Kunckel: Teresa Carreño Theater, Caracas, Venezuela, 1971–1983 Photo: Antolin Sanchez 1990

Jesús Sandoval / Tomás Lugo Marcano / Dietrich Kunckel: Teresa Carreño Theater, Caracas, Venezuela, 1971–1983 Photo: Antolin Sanchez 1990

Theodore “Tao” Gofers: Sirius Apartment Building, Sydney, Australia, 1978–1980 Photo: Craig Hayman, 2017

Theodore “Tao” Gofers: Sirius Apartment Building, Sydney, Australia, 1978–1980 Photo: Craig Hayman, 2017

Minoru Yamasaki / Modam (Mohammad Reza Moghtader): Pahlavi University (today: Shiraz University), Shiraz, Iran, 1960–1979 Photo: Hamid Reza Bani 2017

Minoru Yamasaki / Modam (Mohammad Reza Moghtader): Pahlavi University (today: Shiraz University), Shiraz, Iran, 1960–1979 Photo: Hamid Reza Bani 2017

Avraham Yasky / Yaakov Gil / Ada Karmi-Melamed / Bracha and Michael Hayutin /Nadler Nadler Bixon Gil / Amnon Niv and Rafi Reifer / Ram Karmi, Chaim Ketzef, Ben Peleg: Ben Gurion University Campus, Be’er Sheva, Israel, 1968– 1995 Photo: Gili Merin 2017

Avraham Yasky / Yaakov Gil / Ada Karmi-Melamed / Bracha and Michael Hayutin /Nadler Nadler Bixon Gil / Amnon Niv and Rafi Reifer / Ram Karmi, Chaim Ketzef, Ben Peleg: Ben Gurion University Campus, Be’er Sheva, Israel, 1968– 1995 Photo: Gili Merin 2017

O. Gurevich / V. Zhukov: Hotel Rus, Saint Petersburg, Russia, 1980–1988 Photo: Konstantin Antipin 2016

O. Gurevich / V. Zhukov: Hotel Rus, Saint Petersburg, Russia, 1980–1988 Photo: Konstantin Antipin 2016


 

News source and text: DAM
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