Dec 272 min read

The 'Brutal' Side of Concrete

written by

Aishwarya Bomble

The 'Brutal' Side of Concrete

Brutalist architecture, characterized by its bold and raw use of exposed concrete, has left an indelible mark on the architectural landscape. Originating in the mid-20th century, this style embraces the intrinsic qualities of concrete, emphasizing its strength, durability, and utilitarian nature. Traditionally associated with ancient and traditional construction techniques, concrete is now being artistically employed in contemporary architecture. 

Let's explore how concrete is creatively used in today’s contemporary structures, where its raw texture & appearance meets the aesthetics.

Cidade das Artes  (Rio De Janerio, Brazil)

Architects - Ar. Christian de Portzamparc

Typology - Theater

Purpose - Large curved concrete walls between concrete slabs

Its architecture responds to the beautiful curves of the mountains and the sea line. Concrete is used to cover a large surface area in the organic form.


Credits - Ar. Christian de Portzamparc

Tenerife Auditorium (Tenerife, Spain)

Architects - Ar. Santiago Calatrava

Typology - Auditorium

Purpose - Concrete structure with the form of huge crashing wave

A concrete shell, made of two cone-shaped segments, sweeps upward in a curve with highest point at 58m, supported by only two points with the narrowed tip.


Credits - Prensa 

Long Museum (Shanghai, China)

Architects - Atelier Deshaus

Typology - Museum

Purpose - Cantilever concrete roof with independent shear walls

Curving planes together, resulting in high barrel vaults & cantilevered overhangs separated by narrow skylights, smoothly finished with the look of exposed cast holes.


Credits - Shengliang Su, Xia Zhi

Villa Saitan  (Kyoto, Japan)

Architects - EASTERN Design Office

Typology - Residence

Purpose - Concrete facade represents a huge tree

Thick concrete walls with curves & cutouts resembling organic flow of nature. The complexes are hidden, resulting in the structure looking like one single entity.


Credits - EASTERN Design Office

Jubilee Church  (Rome, Italy)

Architects - Meier Partners

Typology - Religious Structure

Purpose - Church with modern & organic style, entirely of concrete

The shells are made by prefabricated self-sustaining concrete panels, double curved & assembled dry. The cantilever resembles the extension of sails.


Credits - Meier Partners

Rest Stop Project (Gori, Georgia)

Architects - J. Mayer H. Architects

Typology - Rest Stop

Purpose - Huge concrete monolith like structure with glass walls

The huge precast concrete structures shelter petrol filling stations & stretch around glass walls that enclose supermarkets, farmers' markets & exhibitions.


Credits - J. Mayer H. Architects

“What’s nice about concrete is that it looks unfinished” by Ar. Zaha Hadid.

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Aishwarya Bomble

Aishwarya Bomble

An architect who is always on the go to share stories of her countless journeys.