Art Essay Example: History of Brutalism Architecture Photography

Date:  2021-03-30 03:39:45
7 pages  (1706 words)
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Carnegie Mellon University
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The main aim of the cultural context is to improve the understanding of the correlation between architecture and anything else meeting it as well as the rest of the world. This study attempts to examine the importance of photography in theory and practice of architecture through comparing the past architectural photographers attitudes, thoughts and perceptions towards what they design and its construction. Most of the historic architectural photographers have been careful about the design and what is put on paper (Banham, 2003). According to Shulman, a photographer is always conscious of his responsibilities towards the architect as well as the risks involved if one concentrates on transforming the subject. He says, That could lead to altering, thereby affect the form. The resultant exposure could bear a remote resemblance to the original. In effect, a cartoon-like image could be created. In turn, even though the resultant image could possess visual drama, the photograph would not necessarily be of value towards projecting the architect's design intention (Harris, 1995) One of the most notable periods of architectural photography was during the Modern Brutalism era in the 1960s and 1970s.

Brutalism was an architectural movement that became popular in the 1960s and 1970s. Le Corbusier pioneered the movement in Continental Europe and its main protagonists in England were Peter and Alison Smithson. This couple was determined to maintain the best attributes of the Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohes heroic modernism through saving the British Modernism from what they referred to as creeping whimsiness (Hopkins, 2014). Reynar Banham is credited for the term because he suggested that it changes the features an ugly and unfriendly photography and design (Banham, 2003). After World War II, the authorities who intended to rebuild the physically shattered country and impose social change by constructing a cradle-to-grave state consulted British Modernists. According to Hopkins, This "truth to materials" approach was anti-aesthetic, but, the Smithsons believed, more honest and true to Modernism's basic principles. Reynar Banham dubbed the school 'the New Brutalism', a movement that aimed, in his words, to "make the whole conception of the building plain and comprehensible (Hopkins, 2014).

However, the architectures of the early state avoided the strict modernism imposed by the pioneers after the war in CIAM and instead opted to copy the gentle style of long established social architecture from Sweden. Human modernism started in 1951 with the Britains Festival at South Bank in London (Harris, 1995). For Alison, Peter, this watered-down, and populism, photography did not reflect the ideals of Modernism. Therefore, they demanded a more rigid and formal architecture. Both put their ideas on paper with their Secondary School constructed in Hunstanton, Norfolk and completed in 1954. In some ways, the derivations at the school were a false beginning for the upcoming Brutalism. The movements most recognized influence was the Le Corbusier's Unite d'Habitation established in Marseille regarding the social and aesthetics programme (S.Acar, 2009). This building was completed in 1952 and comprised of twelve stories with proportioned apartments, which were accessible from the interior streets and raised on the pilotis. Also, it was topped by a roof porch. Even if the Unite reflected the utopian aspirations of Modernism during the pre-war era, the Smithsons attacked it because they saw its aesthetic and form as a reflection of the present moment and provided a way forward for regeneration of the Modern architecture photography (S.Acar, 2009).

The Smithsons viewed numerous ideas from the Le Corbusiers Unite habitation in the unbuilt design in 1952 for the Londons Golden Lane Estate. In this design, the interior streets of Le Corbusier's Unite d'Habitation became the exterior decks at the third level with the forerunners to the streets in the sky. This became ubiquitous in the social housing projects during the 1960s and 1970s (Joseph, 2002). These features made circulation in the buildings legible with the aim of facilitating the kind of social interactions an individual may have on an actual street. Also, the blocks of the building were arranged in such a way that they worked with the neighbouring street layout instead of being isolated based on the Corbusian model. Regardless of different types of buildings, the Smithsons Golden Estate design progressed most of the ideas, which they explored initially at Hunstanton. They emphasized on indentifiable habitation units and visible circulation. Instead of this couple presenting their designs through elevations, sections and plans in the conventional way, they created collages having cutouts of people pasted to the drawings. According to Banham, "the human presence almost overwhelmed the architecture" (Banham, 2003) The generation before Le Corbusier took inspiration from motor cars and ocean liner while the Smithsons evaluated daily life in bric-a-brac, what they referred to as "the stuff of the urban scene" and advertisements. A number of artists shared these concerns and included the ones linked to the Independent Group on ICA in London.

As the 1950s austerity paved way to the renewed and energetic national self-confidence in the 1960s, Brutalism defined the British architecture in that decade (Roberts, 2004). The social housing by the movement started appearing in most parts of Britain with admired examples of Southampton's Wyndham Court, which was completed in 1966 by Lyons Ellis. Also, Park Hill in Sheffield that was initiated in 1957 and completed in 1961 by Ivor Smith and Jack Lynn, making sure that "streets-in-the-sky" as well as raw concrete were familiar sights (Colomina, 2000).

Niger Henderson took on reality what would likely fall under the documented approach. However, his choice of methods and subjects focused on his artistic experimentations. Immediately after his graduation from the Slade School of Fine Art, he started experimenting with photography, specifically when he was residing at Bethnal Green in London between 1945 and 1954 (Roberts, 2004). His anthropologist wife introduced him to the working class as part of the project initiated by J.L. Peterson, a sociologist. According to Henderson My neighbours appeared to be living out their lives in response to some pre-determined script. These rituals were very formal, very strong. Unlike other architectural photographers who were more concerned about the lives at home, his images focused on the population on the open streets (Joseph, 2002).

Based on the comments of Peter Smithson, a member of the independent group and an architect, Hendersons photographs resulted to the notion that invention of a new house was necessary for a new street. Also in the 19th to 20th century, the street was an arena of life. This initiated the thoughts of the purpose of the street and was replaced, as if it was dead. Handerson focused on collecting materials such as twisted metal and wire from the streets and placed them on light sensitive paper in order to generate photogram (Hopkins, 2014). This method was so different because it eliminated the involvement of the camera. Also, he was able to identify traces of time, cracks, lines as well as surface textures being the elements which exposed the quality of ordinary materials. A review of Handersons exhibitions at the Institute of contemporary arts uncovered another underlying notion of his work, which was collage (Roberts, 2004). In 1961, Frampton said, His vision, however, is too hard to be sentimentalized and in working away from direct reportage either social or otherwise he has developed an art in which disused and decayed elements are powerfully endowed with both image and structure (Steveston, 2006). Yet these environmental studies of desolate stockyards and city plots, configured with macabre machinery and scaling woodwork, require careful sequential montage for their full power to be developed; a montage which evokes at one stroke time, place, decay, and movement.

Brutalism photography was not restricted to social buildings. The Economist Building designed by Smithsons at St James in London between 1962 and 1964 showed how their ideas could be applied in sensitive settings. The buildings cluster of three towers with different heights and an elegant plaza at the ground allowed establishment of a deliberately sophisticated relationship to the historic site (Colomina, 2000). The Preston Bus Station constructed between 1968 and 1969 on the outskirts of London as per the design of the Charles Wilson of Building Design and Keith Ingham saw that Brutalism offered municipal civic identity to other pieces of infrastructure (Joseph, 2002). Rodney Gordon and Owen Luder under which the Trinity Square car park was constructed between 1962 and 1967 as well as the Tricorn Centre constructed also explored this idea between 1962 and 1967 in Portsmouth. These were both remarkable landmarks before they were demolished in 2010 and 2004 respectively.

Even if the theoretical basis of the Modern Brutalism were British, rough sculptural buildings constructed from raw concrete rose in other parts of the world in the 1960s and 1970s. These buildings included Paulo Mendes de Rocha's Brazilian Museum of Sculpture, which was completed in 1988, Paul Rudolph's Yale Art and Architecture Building in 1963, and Tokyos Kenzo Tange's Kuwait Embassy completed in 1970. Though these constructions emerged from different theoretical viewpoints and manifestations, they shared an ambition of reinventing Modern Brutalism and create features, which was conceptually and literally hard-edged (Hopkins, 2014). All these used the Brutalism photography in their designs and decorations.

The characteristics of Henderson's work had a significant influence on what he had on the Brutalism character experience. The depiction of street life reflected undamaged lifestyle in a broken setup and discoveries of robust qualities of materials were made via the banal as well as daily life (Banham, 2003). Hendersons style and focus was different from the utopian images imposed by the pictures of Le Corbusier. Also, the technique of associating and combining photographs can be connected to the exhibitions collected by the independent group (Banham, 2003). The changes that Brutalism brought about to specificity from universal were grasped from the images of Henderson. Also, these transformation dictated how most of the modern houses were constructed and decorated in the interior.

From the mid 1960s, the Smithsons had a chance of putting their ideas of social housing photography into practice through the design of the Robin Hood Gardens in Polar, London, next to the Erno Goldfingers residential building constructed between 1965 and 1967 (Kroll, 2010). Their scheme was composed of low rise blocks which were arranged around the garden with landscape raised and having mounds for the greenery to be visible when an individual was at the surrounding windows as well as higher floors (Colomina, 2000). Both maisonnettes and flats made up the two blocks with the idea being implemented to facilitate more social integration with just one dwelling place. In m...

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