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We think these ‘ugly’ London buildings deserve more love

We think these ‘ugly’ London buildings deserve more love
Dec 23, 2018 Shaking Hands 0 comments
This post was first published by Croydon Advertiser on 23/12/2018.

We think these ‘ugly’ London buildings deserve more love

Why the capital’s concrete ‘monstrosities’ are something to celebrate.

London’s full of concrete blocks, some better-looking than others.

And while bold, grey buildings aren’t everyone’s cup of tea we reckon they’re something to celebrate.

Trends come and go, but right now Brutalism, a style of architecture associated with dated university buildings, council estates and frumpy shopping centres, is back in.

And it is time to give London’s least appreciated structures some overdue affection.

A Brutalist map of our city has even been made for those making the pilgramage.

To celebrate this unexpected turn of events we’ve taken a look at the capital’s most famous Brutalist features.

1. The Economist building

24 St James’s St, SW1A 1HA

When was it built?

1964

What’s it used for?

It consists of three towers and for years, one of them was the headquarters of the Economist Magazine. The Economist left the building in 2016 and there are now plans to refurbish it.

Architect

Alison and Peter Smithson

2. The 50p building (No. 1 Croydon)

12-16 Addiscombe Road, Croydon, CR0 0XT

When was it built?

1970

What’s it used for?

The 50p building or No. 1 Croydon has also been known as the NLA Tower, the Weddingcake and (among older generations) the Threepenny bit. It’s an office block and underwent a £3.5million refurbishment in 2007.

Architect

Richard Seifert & Partners

3. Barbican Estate

Barbican Estate, EC2Y 8BY

When was it built?

1976

What’s it used for?

The Barbican is made up of 2,014 flats and more than 4,000 people live there. It also has the Barbican Centre which has a concert hall, cinema and art gallery.

Architect

Chamberlin, Powell and Bon

4. King’s College London Strand Campus

The Macadam and Strand BuildingsKing’s College London, The Strand, WC2R 2LS

When was it built?

1975

What’s it used for?

King’s College London University’s Macadam building houses the student union and the Strand buildings are home to the university’s arts, humanities and law faculties.

Architect

Troup, Steele & Scott

5. Royal Festival Hall

Southbank Centre, Belvedere Rd, Lambeth, SE1 8XX

When was it built?

1948

What’s it used for?

It’s a classical music venue with a 2,500 capacity concert hall.

Architect

Leslie Martin, Peter Moro, Robert Matthew

6. Hayward Gallery

Southbank Centre, 337-338 Belvedere Rd, SE1 8XX

When was it built?

1968

What’s it used for?

The Hayward Gallery is an art gallery that puts on contemporary exhibitions

Architect

Dan Graham, Ron Herron, Dennis Crompton, Norman Engleback

7. Trellick Tower

Trellick Tower, Ladbroke Grove, W10 5UR

When was it built?

1972

What’s it used for?

Trellick Tower is on the Cheltenham Estate in Ladbroke Grove. The 31-storey tower is Grade II listed and contains 217 homes, which are mainly council flats.

Architect

Erno Goldfinger

8. Alexandra Road estate

90B Rowley Way, Camden, NW8 0SN

When was it built?

1978

What’s it used for?

The Alexandra Road estate or Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate is a Camden housing estate. It has 520 flats and is home to about 2000 people. It’s made up of three parallel east to west blocks, arranged in a crescent-shape.

Architect

Neave Brown

9. Brunel University

Kingston Lane, Uxbridge, UB8 3PH

When was it built?

1966

What’s it used for?

The Brutalist Uxbridge buildings are still a university campus to this day.

Architect

Richard Sheppard, Robson & Partners, Architects

10. Nestlé Tower

61 Park Lane, Croydon CR0 1YL

When was it built?

1964

What’s it used for?

Croydon’s Nestlé Tower or St George’s House, was occupied by the Swiss food manufacturers until 2012. It’s now being turned into hundreds of flats.

Architect

Ronald Ward and Partners

11. The National Theatre

Upper Ground, Lambeth, SE1 9PX

When was it built?

1976

What’s it used for?

The Royal National Theatre is the jewel in London’s theatre crown and sits proud on the Southbank. A large concrete mass is lit up every night in different colours. It has three theatres and seats more than 2,000 people.

Architect

Denys Lasdun

12. Queen Elizabeth Hall

Southbank Centre, Belvedere Rd, Lambeth, SE1 8XX

When was it built?

1967

What’s it used for?

The Queen Elizabeth Hall (QEH) is another concert hall along the Southbank. It holds classical, jazz, and avant-garde music and dance performances and was reo0pened following a renovation in 2018.

Architect

Hubert Bennett, Jack Whittle, F.G West, Geoffrey Horsefall

13. Salters’ Hall

4 London Wall, EC2Y 5DE

When was it built?

1976

What’s it used for?

Located in the heart of The City, Salters’ Hall was designed for Salters livery company. Its rooms are now rented out as plush events spaces with catering to boot.

Architect

Basil Spence

What is Brutalism?

Brutalism or Brutalist architecture was a trend that peaked in the 50s and 60s and is characterised by massive, block-like forms and large raw concrete constructions.

The term “brutalism” was coined by British architects Alison and Peter Smithson in the 1950s. They were inspired by the work of French architect, Le Corbusier’s, use of raw concrete “Béton brut.”

There’s a lot more to Brutalism than meets the eye. It was a socially-minded movement and was widely used to build universities, leisure centres and social housing, among other government-funded projects.

As well as concrete, other materials used in Brutalist buildings include brick, glass, steel and rough-looking stone.

It fell out of favour in the mid 1970s after it was heavily criticised as being “unhuman.”

But in recent years Brutalism has come back into vogue and Londoners are beginning to appreciate the buildings which were disregarded as “eyesores.”

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