chapter  Nine
18 Pages

The Social Question

WithSimon Henley

The city was revised and portrayed as an expressively modern and dramatic place for much of the 20th century – initially in 1914, by the Futurist architect Antonio Sant’Elia with his Citta Nuova, and subsequently by the practitioners of the Bauhaus, the Russian Constructivists, and the International Style architects. The narrator, architectural photographer John Donat, talks of ‘remoulding the city’.5 Park Hill does just this, with its meandering plan and inhabited frame. Brutalism is signalled by an architect’s capacity to exploit the structural properties of concrete to shape archetypal social space, then yes: it is. And it is much the same for Alexandra Road, which the architect Neave Brown explains could only have been built in concrete. In-situ concrete cantilevered cross-walls support dwellings that step down towards a central brick-paved pedestrian street, to which everyone is connected by the staircases and garden terraces that overlook it.