Books

Book Review: This Brutal World (Phaidon)

August 07, 2017

“She referred to the high-rise as if it were some kind of huge animate presence, brooding over them and keeping a magisterial eye on the events taking place.” Any book on architecture that will quote a passage from JG Ballard already has my heart, and a book on Brutalism is an essential component to your art library.

 There has been a bit of a renaissance in the art world’s appreciation for Brutalist architecture, the movement that saw a heyday in the 1950s to 1970s. Brutalism was all about that idea of presence, architecture imposed onto its surroundings in concrete, fortress-like structures that were awe-worthy, even in their inception. A new book, This Brutal World, shows how the twentieth-century movement influenced some of the great twenty-first-century architects, almost impelling Brutalism to move past its imposing Orwellian vision of the future as contemporary trophies for any city they occupy. This is where author Peter Chadwick wields his own muscles on the subject, showing the global spread of Brutalism. Incredible structures from Iceland, Azerbaijan, Germany, Singapore, Poland, Argentina and the USA are highlighted here, all with singular strength and all about that keyword, again, presence. May this now be a presence on your bookshelf. —Evan Pricco

The book is published by and available through Phaidon