The Brutalist City
The story of the Brutalist city, in as much as it can be seen as the last age of Modernist urban planning, begins in 19th-century London. Living conditions were poor, and disease rife. The plan form of Brasilia is that of a plane or a bird. It arranged the official elements in a ‘body’ and the residential areas in a huge ‘wingspan’ planned around a highway that is itself building-like: infrastructure as architecture. Like Mies did at Illinois Institute of Technology, Chandigarh situates Brutalist buildings in a Modernist city plan – in particular, the Capitol buildings. In London, there are two important fragments of the Brutalist city. The first is the Barbican, the other the South Bank. If the New Brutalism is ostensibly a British idea in the South Bank complex, Britain contributed the most authentic and radical example of the Brutalist city seen worldwide. The Brutalist city in its various incarnations may be read and experienced quite differently.