Real World Brutalism

Britain’s Brutalist buildings flagbearer, Owen Luder, died recently aged 93.

Obituaries focused on the generally reviled over-powering concrete monstrosities the architect imposed on townscapes across the land.

For all their ribbon-cutting day glamour of the future, they certainly did not age well.

Consigning him to membership of The Rubble Club. For designers who saw their buildings predecease them.

I also discover that the remarkably apt term Brutalism comes from the French “béton brut”, meaning “raw concrete”.

Could ‘vente brut’ (raw selling) be a brutalism that translates well onto our discipline?

Anyway. You can warm to his premise that British society was too in thrall with the past. He “argued for an architecture which reflected a contemporary spirit, rather than becoming a pastiche of past styles”. Yet his cheaper glimpse of tomorrow was one deemed too unwelcoming to ever be truly loved, by dwellers and environments alike. And unable to weather, was hardly value for money.

A lifetime on the leading wave of his sector, he did though maintain one prescient view;

“The biggest threat to architects is not acquiring managerial skills to add to our design abilities.”

This is the type of customisable wisdom applicable to just about any pursuit where protagonists fail to see the bigger picture.

We often need a little sparkle of vision in the glinting eye of our prospects to fully adopt our solution-enabled fix.

Think of all the people who drag down any idea. Moaners without status quo alternatives. The hidebound, resistant to any ‘change’.

Then there’s the more positive angle. Those that realise their minds can be open to outside confines of their narrow area of operation. What more can they do to influence and reap joy from beyond their functional borders.

Have fun swapping in your own words. And soon see where your audience sits. Are they those dragging back their trade, or at the vanguard trying to push towards a broader betterment?

By way of example, my present main endeavour seeks to make your video meetings the best they can be. In which context you might generate discussion from a remix like;

The biggest threat to architects salespeople today is not acquiring managerial video performance skills to add to our design influencing abilities.

There are three switchable elements to Luder’s doctrine.

The type of person you are ‘selling’ to.

The onrushing skill they must embrace anew.

The specific personal function under imminent pressure that requires upgrade.

Try it out for yourself.


And for good measure, there’s plenty of the Brutalist pioneer’s work (& the genre overall) available under Creative Commons freedoms [1969’s Trinity car park, Gateshead, N East England, demolished 2010 sample] for you to use as slide backdrop to help your message stick. And stick it will, without becoming wind-torn or rain-stained.

cropped image of creative commons 2.0 file taken by Gee Bee

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