Although heavily criticised for its grey appearance and totalitarian feeling, brutalism has seen something of a resurgence in the last few years, if not in the hearts of architects in that of members of the public. With more and more Brutalist structures being torn down across northern Europe, lovers of this polarising style have begun to document the remaining buildings and seek to ensure they don’t all disappear from our landscapes. In honour of these building, and those seeking to protect them, we’ve compiled a list of 6 great, (relatively) unknown brutalist buildings.
The first buildings on the list are the infamous Le Vele (The Sails) of Scampia, in Naples. Built between 1962 and 1975 and designed by Fanz Di Salvo, they were inspired by the works of Le Courbisier and Kanzo Tage. They have become more famous in recent years by being the location of scenes from the critically acclaimed series Gomorrah. Although supporters of brutalism have tried to emphasise their architectural structure, the inhabitants have criticised them as uninhabitable. The absence of light that filters in between the buildings, coupled with the use of The Sails as biggest European open air drug market by the Neapolitan camorra means that today The Sails represent one of the biggest failures in the history of Brutalist architecture.
Alexandra Road Estate
Located at a stone throw from the celebrated Abbey Road studios in the borough of Camden is the Alexandra Road Estate. Designed by Neave Brown, and completed in 1978 with its 520 flats, school, community centre and parkland, this estate is without doubt one of the most successful examples of brutalist architecture present on the list. Thanks to the terraces present on the first floor, when walking in the estate one seems to be in a surreal modern environment, which makes it a great alternative sight to see if you are ever in the area.
Dollan Swimming Baths
Located in East Kilbride, just 8 miles south of Glasgow is the Dollan Swimming Baths. Designed By Alexander Buchannan Campell and opened in 1968, the baths are the home of Scotland’s first 50 metre swimming pool. Inspired by the works of Kenzo Tage, the building remains in use to this day, being also listed as a Category A building by Historical Scotland, a government association in charge of protecting the building heritage of Scotland.
The fourth building on our list is the building complex of Corviale in Rome, designed in 1972 by the Italian architects: Mario Fiorentino, Federico Gorio, Piero Maria Lugli, Giulio Sterbini and Michele Valori. Know by Romans as “Il Serpentone” – the big snake- the name refers to its extraordinary length, being over two kilometres long. It is so long in fact that to this day Romans blame it for having deviated the wind that from the sea used to blow over the eternal city. Constituted by two buildings with nine floors each, the courtyards and external walkways were intended to give the inhabitants of the buildings communal areas to inhabit, but years of abandon have left this a failed project.
House of Soviet
Built upon the ruins of the Konigsberg Castle, the House of Soviet stands in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. Designed by the Ukrainian architect Yulian L. Shvartsbreim, the building was started in 1970 and never fully completed. Thanks to its shape, it is known by locals as the Buried Robot due to it resembling a robot that has been buried up to its shoulders in the earth. Perhaps more importantly, recent revelations by Soviet soldiers indicate this building as being erected upon the remains of the infamous Amber Room treasure.
Located in Milan, and built in 1958, it was designed by the Italian architecture studio : Studio BBPR. One of the first, if not the first, sky scrapers built in Italy, with the Duomo it stands to this day as one of the most iconic elements of the Milan skyline. Although very different from its surrounding buildings and area, with its modernity it fully incarnated the spirit of Milan. As stated by the Italian architect Ernesto Nathan Rogers :’ The Tower wants to condense culturally […] the atmosphere of Milan, the ineffable yet perceivable characteristic.’
– James A. Fort