Brutalism Has It’s Day


The British architectural style of Brutalism has been given its much-needed recognition with the elevation of four post-war buildings’ listed statuses. The UK Minister for Architecture, Ed Vaizey, has placed buildings by architects Norman Foster, Michael Manser, and Bryan Jefferson on the list to commemorate the work of British architects throughout the period after the Second World War.

Foster was responsible for designing the striking Spectrum Building, which was constructed in 1980 for Renault as the Renault Distribution Centre. It was featured in the James Bond classic A View to a Kill in 1984, and has since been recognised for its yellow steel supports – the so-called “umbrella masts” – and its yellow roof atop glass walls. The Capel Manor House, built by Manser, was one of the very first in the world to utilise exposed steel beams and floor to ceiling glass in a domestic house. It has been given the prestigious Grade II* listing, which signifies that English Heritage considers the house to be “of more than special architectural interest.”

Jefferson’s electricity substation in Sheffield was given a Grade II listing, being described as having a “bold… dramatic, sculptural feel” and having “scrupulously finished concrete” by English Heritage. The final building to be upgraded is the Civil Defence Bunker, whose architect is not known. It was built during the Cold War, and is a “rare surviving example of a purpose-built civil defence control centre.” It has been labelled as being of a Grade II standard.

There are 700 post-war buildings that have been listed by English Heritage, and the news of their status change has been made to coincide with the launch of the “Brutal and Beautiful” exhibition to celebrate “the nation’s love/hate relationship with our recent architectural past.”

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