< Back to front page Text size +

Brutalism lives

Posted by Christopher Shea  March 20, 2009 12:18 PM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

hemeroscopium_01ax.jpg-thumb.jpg
The Hemeroscopium House, Madrid

City Hall is Boston's famous monument to the underloved architectural style known as brutalism, but it's not the only brutalist work that some people want to do away with. London, for example, is weighing what to do about the Robin Hood Gardens, a housing complex that once seemed to point the way to the future of affordable city living but now comes across as oppressive and dreary.

Still, some architects remain wed to some of brutalism's principles -- even taking them to greater extremes. Ensamble Studio, for example, didn't just use concrete forms to create its so-called Hemeroscopium House, a private residence in Madrid (concrete being a signature ingredient of brutalism). It used the most massive structural beams available, beams and reinforced slabs that more typically would end up as part of a giant parking garage or highway bridge. Topping off the house is a rough-hewn stone with a paleolithic look, just in case you missed the point that this house is supposed to convey solidity.

From some angles, a glass facade softens the look. From others, the house is simply brutal -- but in a good way, yes? It took a year to design and engineer, but, because of the simple structure, only a week to build. A "hemeroscopium," in Greek, incidentally, is apparently a place where the sun sets.

hemeroscopium_02.jpg
Another view

Via Tropolism

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

 
About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
contributors
Brainiac blogger Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Columbia, South Carolina. He can be reached here.

Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.

Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.

Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.

Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.

Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."

Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.

archives

Browse this blog

by category