There has been alot of news recently about some Brutalist Masterpieces in the UK, and they always seem to touch a raw nerve with everybody. So it seemed useful to make a post covering three of these buildings because of their contrasting fates.
Trinity Car Park in Gateshead by Owen Luder
Photograph: Mick Donnelly
As Kosmograd sums up in his post this is a mid 60′s Car Park made famous by its appearance in the film Get Carter. A building I have some personal knowledge of having studied Architecture at Newcastle. When I visited it, it seemed in my student days to evoke a kind of urban cool of revolt against all things kitsch and twee and ‘little england’. However its looming presence over the skyline of Gateshead must be acknowledged as an urban sore. The 60′s planning promise in Tyne and Wear was for a pure modernist future of pedestrian walkways crisscrossing over a modern road infrastructure, a perfect driveable and walkable city.The city and planners went ahead with their scheme straight out of the le corb cook book for city building, (great architect as he was did he ever really understand urbanism?). The price of this dream was the destruction of much of the medieval and walkable city. In its place the road footprint of the modernist dream was built but not the pedestrian one. The actual inhabitants of these cities had been sold a dud.
Now in its place will be some sort of development by Tesco, including ironically a car park. None of the real issues of the urban fabric will be addressed, we will just get a kitsch little england development, a flawed but honest work taken down for the sake of a junk box with no other motivation than profit. Bah!
St. Peters Seminary by Gillespie Kidd and Coia
Photograph: zolita1908 & Photograph: Riba
The next Brutalist masterpiece up for the chop may be St. Peter’s Seminary near Glasgow, except that although this building was always obsolete from before the moment of its completion, its the Scottish modernist masterpiece we never had so to speak. But even as it rots there are strong moves to preserve it in some way. I hope it can be saved. Read the excellent Guardian article about it.
Toppila Pulp Mill by Alvar Aalto. (Built in 1930-33, extended in 1942-44. Mill was closed in 1985.)
This fantastic Industrial building by Aalto, perhaps not a brutalist building per say but definitely carrying that same muscular power, unfortunately suffers from a third fate. No longer a working paper mill any redevelopment has been stifled by the authorities, the holy work of Aalto requiring being unadulterated for all time, so it just sits quietly slipping back into the earth slowly! See the notes on the picture in flickr by jukkar.
All these buildings could be saved and even should be reused and reinvigorated, but don’t hold your breath that any one of them will make it!
To see these buildings mapped check out my brutalism tag in tagzania.