6 Examples of Brutalist Architecture in London
London is a city filled with an eclectic mix of different cultures, styles, and trends.
And I’m talking about more than just the people.
The buildings that stand throughout London showcase some different architectural designs. You may have seen our blog on Art Deco buildings, and for this article we are going to focus on a different style, Brutalism.
Brutalist architecture is a divisive, eye-catching, and polarising style that emerged in the mid-20th century, and there are plenty of stunning examples of it throughout the Capital.
Here at One One One, we love all things London and enjoy catching a glimpse of some of these famous structures for ourselves.
In this guide, we’re going to take you through six Brutalist buildings in London, and let you know a little more about each one.
But first, why not take a glimpse of some of them in part one of our video collection?
What is Brutalist Architecture?
Brutalist architecture always seems to split opinions.
Some people love it, others not so much.
To sum it up, you should start by looking into the word Brutalism. This word is derived from the French word ‘beton brut’, which means raw concrete.
This exposed and ‘raw’ concrete is a key feature of many Brutalist buildings, among these other common features:
- Geometric Shapes – These types of buildings often use simple, geometric shapes, such as rectangles and cylinders to form the main component of their design. This feature gives Brutalism its trademark uncompromising and bold aesthetic.
- Functionality – Many Brutalist buildings are designed with function in mind. This means that the style of the building isn’t just focused on the visuals, but also on how it can fulfil the purpose it is intended for.
- Repetitive Design – Repetitiveness is a key component of Brutalist architecture and features heavily in the design with concrete panels or grids often being used to add to the pattern on the building façade.
- Minimalist Decoration – In Brutalism, the decoration of each building is often minimal. The focus lies more on the structure and qualities of the concrete rather than bright colours and other design features.
Since the 1950s and 60s, Brutalist architecture has played a big part and influenced many great designers.
Here are six buildings you can visit in London today to catch a glimpse of it for yourself.
6 Brutalist Buildings in London
Centre Point – Bloomsbury
We start our journey into London Brutalist architecture at Centre Point in Bloomsbury.
This huge skyscraper comprises of a whopping 34 floors and climbs to well over 100 metres tall, making it one of the tallest buildings in London.
There are many classic Brutalist features in the design of the building, including a modular structure, with repetitive concrete squares adorning the entire exterior of the building.
Centre Point was constructed in the 1960s, right when Brutalism was in its heyday, and this is evident in the aesthetic qualities of the building.
Interestingly, this building was unoccupied for many years after it was opened and was actually dubbed ‘London’s empty skyscraper’ for a short while.
Now a luxury residential building, this building is a real landmark of London and is a Grade II listed structure.
102 Petty France – Westminster
One of the most important buildings in London is 102 Petty France.
While not a name that many people will know, this was actually designed to be the home of the UK’s Home Office and was so from 1978 to 2004.
This building is right in the heart of Westminster and surrounded by buildings of equal importance, but what makes this one really stand out is the Brutalist nature of its design.
There is the unmistakable heavy reliance on concrete, the clean lines and sharp angles of the geometric shapes that adorn the exterior, and the modular features which repeat right around the structure that place it firmly in this category.
Construction of this building actually ended after the prime years of Brutalism in London, but the influence is clear to see. It now houses many governmental departments such as the Ministry of Justice and the Crown Prosecution Service.
Barbican Estate – Barbican
The aptly named Barbican Estate is a residential complex that is well known as a prime example of Brutalist architecture in London and the United Kingdom.
With construction beginning in the 1960s and taking around two decades to complete, this is a relatively new group of structures, and when all together, the aesthetic effects are stunning.
This upmarket estate features some clear features of Brutalism, with functional, minimalist, and geometric towers standing tall above the buildings below.
There are around 2000 flats in this area and some other buildings such as the Barbican Arts Centre.
With residential walkways and lovely gardens on the ground floor, there is a lot to love about this area of London, whether you’re interested in architecture or not.
National Theatre – Waterloo
One of the most iconic buildings in London is The National Theatre.
This structure sits on the South Bank of the River Thames and is a prominent example of Brutalist architecture.
Construction of this building began in the late 1960s and was completed by 1976.
Exposed concrete is a key feature of this building, with the concrete used to construct the building playing a pivotal role in the overall design of the building.
Geometric and modular patterns are another key element of this visual appeal of the buildings, with striking concrete floors jutting out at different levels, cantilevered sections, and a diamond decoration repeating on the bottom of each floor.
This building contains three interconnected theatres, as well as rehearsal spaces, dressing rooms and more, and is one of the best places in London to visit, whether to see a show or simply take in the stunning design from outside.
Brunswick Centre – Bloomsbury
Situated in the delightful area of Bloomsbury, the Brunswick Centre is a mixed-use development that contains a wide range of shops, luxury flats, and even a cinema.
The striking design of this building is always sure to catch the eye, with a tiered structure to the different floors throughout that provides a stunning aesthetic effect from the outside.
Designed by architects Patrick Hodgkinson and Philip Dowson, the building only took the five years between 1967 and 1972 to complete. The original plan was to have a final product that was much larger, but after a dispute with the Ministry of Defence, whose building occupied the land wanted to widen the development, the final size was settled upon.
Another alteration was that the building was never painted the cream it was intended to be. Instead, the bare concrete was left, just adding to the Brutalism on show.
This, combined with the jutting balconies, minimalist aesthetics, modular design, and sharp angles and lines make it a must-see for any fans of this style of architecture.
The Standard – Kings Cross
Our final building is The Standard at Kings Cross.
This hotel is amazing inside and out, with lavish décor on the interior and amazing architecture outside.
This has only recently become a hotel in 2019 and was originally built with the intention of it being used as London office space, something we know a thing or two about here at One One One.
The building has a stark, imposing, and almost futuristic appearance, with two sections making it really stand out.
Firstly, the main part of the building consists of a geometric and modular structure, with indents throughout to provide a fluidity to the exterior. The concrete façade adds a bold nature and confirms the Brutalist influence here.
Above this, a more modern structure pokes out the top of building, continuing the shape but adding the futuristic element mentioned earlier. A lovely touch is the bright red lift that interestingly runs up the outside of the building.
This is an astonishing structure and is well worth a look, or a night’s stay.
Want to see more content on these stunning buildings, check out part 2 of our video guide below.
Brutalist London Office Space with One One One
Here at One One One, we love all things London, especially the office space.
Whilst there is no available office space in these buildings, we do have some great spots which contain elements of Brutalist design.
Want to see for yourself?
Or, if you want to know more, then get in touch with our team who are always happy to help.