Brutal East End
Ashington House, Bethnal Green
There is little that divides opinion as sharply as concrete modernist architecture, inspiring an unreconcilable split between those who want it demolished and those who want it preserved. Yet the architectural term brutal is of French origin and simply refers to the use of raw concrete (béton brut), even if it is widely used as an expression of the perceived barbarism of buildings in this style.
Photographer Simon Phipps has spent fifteen years surveying these vanishing structures, capturing their lively geometry and dramatic use of textures before they are destroyed, to produce BRUTAL LONDON published by September Books, a catalogue of the capital’s most distinguished examples. His elegant black and white photography draws attention to the idealism of this style which, even when it was misguided, now appears preferable to the ubiquitous cynicism of much new architecture conceived merely as short-life cladding to achieve an effect.
Haggerston School, Weymouth Terrace, E2. Designed by Ernö Goldfinger for the London County Council. Built 1964–67, listed grade II.
Barbican, Silk St, City of London, EC2. Designed by Chamberlin, Powell & Bon for the Corporation of the City of London, Built 1962–82, listed grade II.
Robin Hood Gardens, Woolmore St, Poplar, E14. Designed by Alison and Peter Smithson for the Greater London Council. Built 1969–72, unlisted.
Glenkerry House, Brownfield Estate. Designed by Ernö Goldfinger for London County Council. Built by Greater London Council. Built 1965–67, listed grade II*.
Shoreditch Fire Station, Old Street, EC1. Designed by the Special Works Department of the London County Council Architects’ Department led by Geoffrey Horsfall. Built 1964, unlisted.
Golden Lane Estate, Goswell Rd, City of London, EC2. Designed by Chamberlin, Powell & Bon. Built 1953–63, listed grade II, (Crescent House Listed grade II*).
Newling Estate, Old Market Sq, Bethnal Green, E2. Designed by London County Council Architects’ Department. Built 1963, unlisted.
Keeling House, Claredale St, Bethnal Green, E2. Designed by Denys Lasdun of Fry, Drew, Drake & Lasdun. Built 1957–59, listed grade II*.
Middlesex St Estate, Middlesex St, City of London, E1. Corporation of London Architects’ Department. Built 1965–75, unlisted.
Crown Estate,Victoria Park Rd, E9. Designed by John Spence & Partners for the Crown Estate. Built 1967–77, unlisted.
Charles Hayward Building, part of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children, Hackney Rd, E2. Designed by Lyons Israel Ellis. Built 1972, demolished 2015.
Bethnal Green Fire Station, Roman Rd, E2. Designed by Greater London Council Architects’ Department. Built 1966–67, unlisted.
Photographs copyright © Simon Phipps
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