Brutalism – Architecture between everyday, poetry and theory

International Symposium, Berlin 2012

Brutalism is a priori the diffuse project of a generation whose quasi, fundamentalist revival of the materials of modernism and the striking, no-frills look of béton brut laid claim to more than an authentic aesthetic. Beneath the surface, discourse was bubbling around issues such as habitat, urban planning and the ethics of architecture. In the framework of an international symposium, Brutalism as a theoretically underpinned architectural practice will be considered in the light of its key contribution to the further development of post-war modernism, and criteria formulated for the preservation of Brutalist monuments.

Berlin /Karlsruhe, February 2012.

In May 2012, the Wüstenrot Foundation, in cooperation with the Chair of Architectural Theory of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the Masters Program Building Restoration (KIT) will host an international symposium in Berlin. For two days, architects, and architectural historians, theorists, and conservators will discuss Brutalism in the light of its unique history as a laboratory situation – engendered both by Team 10’s critical review of classical modernism and of post-war modernism – in which modern architectural trends still of relevance today were developed and tested for the very first time. But not only did Brutalism’s aesthetic and formal features set the course of future developments, as late minimalism attests; the ethical, which is to say socio-political subtexts of its ‘Everyday Architecture’ approach likewise exerted a lasting influence on architectural and urban planning discourse, as evinced by the Las Vegas- and Suburbia-oriented postmodernism of Venturi, Scott, Brown, for example, or by the Dirty Realism of the late 1980s, which fostered a new urban planning approach to urban sprawl.

The renaissance of certain Brutalist motifs and theorems in recent contemporary architecture is by no means paralleled by public appreciation for the architectural ‘manifestos’ bequeathed us by this movement. To cite just one example, the planned demolition of Robin Hood Gardens, a large housing estate in London, has clearly signalized that moves to preserve this architectural heritage are highly controversial. During the symposium, criteria and scales for the evaluation of the Brutalism and its architecture as a turning point but also as a crisis factor in the late modernism will be established and proved. The current boom of the Brutalism will be integrated in a historical context. It is essential to cultivate a sensitive perception of this endangered building culture. The symposium’s major objective will be to establish substantial criteria and benchmarks by which to evaluate Brutalism and its architecture as both a turning point and a critical element of late modernism. Its secondary objective will be to foster a sensitive approach to this endangered architectural heritage.

The following speakers are expected: Tom Avermaete, Stephen Bates, Beatriz Colomina, Werner Durth, Kenneth Frampton, Jörg Gleiter, Liane Lefaivre, Luca Molinari, Joan Ockman, Werner Oechslin, Ingrid Scheurmann, Vladimir Šlapeta, Laurent Stalder, Philip Ursprung, Dirk van den Heuvel, Adrian von Buttlar and Stanislaus von Moos.

Anette Busse, Florian Dreher, Hannes Mayer and Georg Vrachliotis will chair the discussion panels.

Brutalism. Architecture Of Everyday Culture, Poetry and Theory.
International Symposium, Berlin 2012.
10th –11th May, 2012, Akademie der Künste, Hanseatenweg 10, 10557 Berlin

KIT – Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Faculty of Architecture
Institute of Design, Art & Theory, Chair of Architectural Theory
Dipl.-Ing. Annelen Schmidt
Englerstrasse 7, Geb. 20.40
D-76137 Karlsruhe
annelen schmidt does-not-exist.kit edu
+49 (0) 721 608 47559

Further Information:

Papers will be published. No honorary fees will be paid. Please submit copy and/or confirm