City Leisure Design and Toys
Love it or loathe it, there is no doubt that the high rise,
high density crusade for function and form that we now consider
to be iconic Sixties architecture made a significant impression
on the British skyline and landscape. I use the word 'consider'
advisedly because this style of architecture was actually a
later extension of the Bauhaus-inspired 'modernist' movement
of three decades earlier.
The original architectural mainstay of this movement was not
even British, but the Swiss architect Charles-Edouard Jeanneret,
probably better known as Le
Corbusier, who was also a painter, writer, sculptor, furniture
designer and urban planner. The bomb-damage clearance programme
of the Fifties and the 'baby boom' together with the potential
oil crisis required fast, simple, comparatively cheap construction
and futuristic minimalist designs using modern building elements
of concrete and steel seized the opportunity.
The style of design now generally known as 'brutalist' (from
the French 'béton brut' or 'raw concrete') was pioneered by
Le Corbusier who, contrary to previous design, created simplistic,
unadorned, monolithic concrete structures built around a steel
frame. The public housing projects his ideas influenced are
now considered to be largely responsible for having the effect
of isolating communities in high-rises and disrupting the traditional
social ties integral to community development.
and Roads Hyde
Park Underpass World
Trade Center Worlds
Narrows Bridge Mont
Blanc Tunnel Tay
Road Bridge Moscow
TV Tower Victoria
Underground Line Euston
As cities underwent massive rebuilding programmes entire communities
were split up and rehoused in anonymous (sometimes badly-constructed
- see 'Ronan Point') grey boxes, even if they didn't want to go.
There were, commonly, no monitorable areas for children to play
in and poor lift maintenance often resulted in climbing up and
down 27 flights of stairs. There were, of course, construction
triumphs such as the Post Office Tower as well as planning disasters
like Westgate House, Newcastle, and
Britain was not far behind with its own 'modernist' architects such
Basil Spence, the designer of Coventry Cathedral, Owen
Luder's 'Tricorn' shopping centre and Alison
and Peter Smithson who created London's 'Economist' building and
'Robin Hood Gardens'. Foreign architects such as 'Trellick Tower'
designer Hungarian Erno
Goldfinger were also making their mark. Do you happen to recognise
that name in another Sixties concept? Quite right - James
Bond author Ian Fleming allegedly disliked the architects work
so much that he named a Bond villain after him!
This a far larger subject than I can do credit to - as a good starting
point there is more fab information at
Concrete - Retrowow