chapter  Three
10 Pages

Muck and Ore

WithSimon Henley

Two buildings mark the start of the Brutalist epoch. They are Le Corbusier’s Unite d’habitation in Marseille and Alison and Peter Smithson’s Hunstanton School. The texture of the building’s surfaces is as important as its arrangement in plan, section and elevation, and as important as its form. The surfaces are rough. The building has a rawness at odds with the machine aesthetic of the Modern Project. The material aspect of the building, unlike its composition, appears to have been an accident. The structure – standard steel columns and beams, with their welded connections, and flanking brick shear walls – is the building. The Alumni Memorial Hall and Metallurgical and Chemical Engineering Building followed. It is their ‘construction details that would not only articulate this system in its own terms but also give expression to the structural-spatial concepts of the building as a whole’12 that the Smithsons applied to the design of their school.