Brutal and the Beach

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AUGUST 2021 – You may see it everyday, on your way to work, on campus, in popular fiction. Not everyone knows much about it, but everyone likely has a strong opinion about it, Brutalist Architecture. Massive, hulking concrete structures that visually dominate whatever landscape they occupy are at the core of this architectural style. I’ve been reading a lot about it lately and sorting out my own visceral response to it. Long used as filming locations for futuristic sci-fi films, the stark, cold, barren repetitive styling of brutalist architecture feels foreign and otherworldly to most. These structures, once lauded, are now being torn down across the globe as they are dark, energy inefficient, and have (structurally) aged terribly since the style came into fashion after World War II.

Can you think of any examples of Brutalist architecture from your city/region? Years back as an art student I studied in a brutalist Fine Art building, that lacked suitable light, leaked, and seemed to be crumbling right around us as we worked. But there is something magical about these buildings all the same. And I can’t help but wonder if they could be saved and brought into the 21st century with the right approach. Bjarke Ingels, the visionary Danish architect known for his ‘BIG’, bold style seems to be channeling a new future and direction for projects of this ilk. As he recognizes that it isn’t the scale and daring of these buildings that is their downfall, but rather the materials and the execution. Look at his new project in Toronto, it is without question an homage to the cube build of Habitat 67 in Montreal. I really like that a new iteration of the goal for bold and grand is being attempted and that ideas are being perfected instead of discarded. As so much of art these days is safe rehashes of past works that were already successful (cough, hollywood reboots). And I am thrilled to see people taking things that could be improved, that have mysteries and issues still left unanswered, and tackling them anew. That is the spirit of creativity and innovation put to good use!

I can’t wait to see the next generation of buildings and materials that incorporate nature and green living into the fabric of the design and structure. We are only just beginning to see the potential of what cities and lived environments of the future could be like. And I’m happy to report, that they are trying to renovate and fix that stark concrete building for the arts at my alma mater, which is wonderful to see! It is getting re-clad, insulated, and hopefully more windows and gardens and new gallery spaces.

Summer vibes have been strong of late, keeping up the brainstorming for my new book project. Have about half of the story line plotted out at this point which is awesome! The main characters are largely in place and I’m throwing everything at them and we’ll see how they react as I begin writing the first draft, haha. A friend of mine wanted to read ‘Jurassic Park’ and as you know, I’m a big fan of Michael Crichton’s work, and was happy to re-read it. Think I was 12 the last time I read it, felt different this time around. I tend to appreciate books/films/music with fresh eyes as an adult, which stands to reason. As I’m referencing so many different experiences and have (somewhat, haha) matured since my teenage years. I’m quite certain you all are familiar with the story, as it is a sci-fi masterpiece and one of his best works.

That’s the latest, here’s a toast to your next adventure and what excitement September no doubt holds!

~ CS

PS: Feels like a bit of a crime that I didn’t have a photo of some brutalist architecture for this entry in the series. Will remedy this travesty in the future at some point, but in the meantime, enjoy the boats, as I know I will.