New Brutalism

Banham, Reyner. “The New Brutalism.” Architectural Review 118 (December 1955).

An ‘ism’ be defined by style or movement. But when does the level of participation and its rules or a manifesto be goverened by a reinterpretation of a timely style and its influence on others. I will be critiquing Brutalism from its beginnings, how relevant it was in architecture in the 1950’s and it’s existence in modern architecture.

The use of béton brut (raw concrete) was pioneered by Auguste Perret through ferro concrete buildings such as ‘Church of Notre Dame du Raincy’ built in 1922-1924. This was a move away from stone construction and a birth of a brutal finish of concrete. In addition to this move towards a technological change in architecture, the brutalist expression can be seen in Le Corbusier quote “L’Architecture, c’est, avec des matières brutes établir des rapports émouvant” which means “Architecture is the establishing of moving relationships with raw materials”. Because of the natural appreciation of raw materials and finish, Le Corbusier saw what was the ‘business’ of architecture, which is to establish emotional relationships by means of raw materials.

Brutalism is of the idea that quality of the raw materials and not that it is rough and cheap. It was “the warehouse aesthetic,” which sought to capture the raw quality of materials. It was not concerned about the material as Peter Smithson pointed out in a late interview:

“Brutalism is not concerned with the material as such but rather the quality of the material, that is with the question: what can it do? And by analogy: there is a way of handling gold in Brutalist manner and it does not mean rough and cheap, it means: what is its raw quality?”

Its raw quality may not be of the interest of the client or the site requirements. It sits in the world in situ. It doesn’t yield towards to an aesthetic that is made by society, but like nature exists in a raw element. As Luis Kahn has said “You can have a conversation with concrete… the beauty of what you create comes if you honor the material for what it really is.” This can be held as true but does refining a base element into another remove its essence.

Which comes back to Auguste Perret’s ferro-concrete cathedral. It is something that crosses between the old and new, it has one foot in the 2000 year history of cathedra. It’s step into the relm of ferro-concrete is it’s dip into béton brut and specifically brutalism. But it has evolved to be a respect of materials, to the point of worshiping a brick for its beauty. With ‘the warehouse aesthetic’ it was a commercialisation of Brutalism for the masses, something that was set loose. But it still is revisited today. It exists in the “Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels” in Los Angeles, California by Rafael Moneo. It has elements of deconstructionism, but echoes back to Brutalism just as the ‘Church of Notre Dame du Raincy’ harked back to cathedra.


Collins, P. (2004). Concrete the vision of a new architecture. Montreal, Que: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Banham, R. 1966 The New Brutalism: ethic or aesthetic? London, Architectural Press, p16 Translation provided in: Brutalism. The Grove Dictionary of Art. Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2000

Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture p10-11

Smithson, P (2004) Conversations with Students, Princeton Architectural Press

Nelson, L. (2006). American sanctuary: Understanding sacred spaces. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Between Nationalism and Populism

Tafuri, Manfredo, and Francesco Dal Co. “Between Nationalism and Populism.” In Modern Architecture. London: Faber, 1986, 1976.

The purism of a movement can be sustained by holding onto those ideals and language and at every opportunity create a positive reinforcement of that style. The international style is said to be unyielding in its elements. I will be looking at how Alvar Aalto created a style that sat outside of the convention.

During the war, Aalto was working on low-income modular housing at Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a research professor when in he went back to Finland to help with the similarly prefabricated houses in 1940.

Alvar Aalto’s architecture was defined by a humanist philosophy more than by a distinct style. “To everything its proper place, a setting dictated by its owns demands, its own aesthetic. And everything should be connected with the community served by the town”. The idea that things are in situ rings strongly in my mind. Everything should have a place. But does this fly in the face of the international style that had been envisioned. Mies van der Rohe was an architect that created a number of great works that we have not seen before the 1920s. Another thing he was doing was that he was creating architecture within the natural environment, but he was not into copying it. He understood that humans, architecture and nature are the three things that went together.

But nothing stays the same. Things evolve and move forward and transpose into different elements and forms. To be flexible in the environment or to let the environment be flexible to the style. Aalto’s major work was seen in “Villa Mairea”, a two-floor L-shaped house set in woods built for Maire and Harry Gullichsen. It combined different materials in a technical way but also provided a humanist appreciation in volume and space.
To paint a style into a corner and say, that is where it lives and stays is not apart of the nature of architecture. Its open to interpretation and influences come from society of the time.


Whyte, I. B. (2004). Modernity and architecture. Tracing Modernity: Manifestations of the Modern in Architecture and the City, 42-55.

Anderson, S. (1987). The fiction of function. Assemblage, (2), 19-31.

Aalto, A. (1928) “The Latest TrendsIn Architecture”, in Göran Schildt Alvar Aalto, In his own words, New York: Rizzoli International Publications.

Constant, C. (1990). The Barcelona Pavilion as landscape garden: Modernity and the picturesque. AA files, (20), 46-54.

Sveiven , Megan. “AD Classics: Villa Mairea / Alvar Aalto” 28 Oct 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 Apr 2013.

MixC Shenyang

As Shenyang is one of the biggest economic developed centers in northwest China, it was important to integrate parts of the Shenyang Sustainable Cities Program. As part of the cities vision, it required policies to be put into place to increase housing densities with improved livability , organise housing to alleviate crowding and improving the quality of life (Sustainable Shenyang Project Office, 1998). A solution to overcrowding was modeled on the township village found in rural green belt. MixC Shenyang is seven levels of retail, office, residential and hotel designed as a multi-phased development over 20 acres (Lobo, 2014). It features an internal wintergarden which allows light to access within, and also becomes a unifying part of the development but is targeted towards the middle to upper incomes (RTKL, 2014).

Area: 510,967 m2

Phase 1: Retail & Entertainment (Cinema & Icerink), Office spaces
Phase 2: Residential apartments, office and meeting spaces,
Phase 3: Hotel & winter garden (Contends all HOPSCA elements)

MixC is located within the high density district of Yumin Cun where Planning has created a policy of ‘Urban Villages’ to cope with the rapid expansion of the area and to aid in community planning.



HOPSCA has been coined as “a city within a city”. HOPSCA is a form of mixed use planning born out of the China development boom of the 1990s. HOPSCA is an acronym for Hotels, Offices, Parks, Shopping, Convention centres and Apartments. The concept of HOPSCA is gaining recognition as a legitimate planning tool outside of China. It has been in use since the 1990s and favoured by architects and urban designers worldwide.

HOPSCA differs from Master Planning, TOD, traditional CBD (Central Business District) models, New Urbanism and Smart Growth in distinct ways. HOPSCA was driven by an identified market niche to co-locate specific uses: These uses are desirous to co-locate because of their compatibility.

The thesis proposes to consider how HOPSCA could be realized in South East Queensland under current legislation. Further the paper will discuss the desirability of creating a ‘city within a city’ and its relevance and application in the Australian context. The research for the thesis will be undertaken between July and October 2014 with delivery on or before 29th October 2014.

HOPSCA? What is it?

Land uses are assigned or designated within a zonal system of land use management that allows for an efficient and orderly arrangement of compatible land uses, delivery of infrastructure (like EC for Emerging Community zones in City Plan (Brisbane City Council, 2014b)) and provide an interestingly diverse urban fabric that changes with the evolution of a place according to its needs. Zones that are compatible with each other work best if they deliver safety and security but also have cultural benefits and contribute to and positive living day to day.

Mixed uses in built up areas has been a tradition which can be found as early as Ancient Greek and European medieval cities. HOPSCA elements in Judge magazine 1895
Historically mixed use enclaves were not established with a set of predetermined criteria as we would find in today’s litigious framework in Queensland. In fact, the omission of controls outside of Medieval guild interests (for example) is what helps to create richly organic and ancient centres.

Following on, the trend of urbanisation has been occurring since cities have been seen as attractive places for opportunity, work or leisure. Today, our planning mechanisms seek to ensure developmental changes encourage sustainable places.

HOPSCA is a modern rendition of mixed use development to create an economic hub for a specific purpose at a very large scale, a city scale. HOPSCA requires a minimum active total population of 15,000 persons based on literature reviewed. Therefore one can see that the surrounding city population mist be considerable to support a HOPSCA proposal.

HOPSCA (also known as Urban Complex) is described as ‘a city within a city’ and is an acronym for Hotel, Offices, Parks, Shopping malls, Convention and Apartments. In order for HOPSCA to work it needs to be at the city scale being considerably larger than a master planned community and is discussed further in 2.4 Characteristics of a HOPSCA.