EM | Brutalism: Ethics of Aesthetics?

  View of the internal street of Alexandra Road Estate, London © Felix Martin  

The past decade has witnessed quite a turnaround in the public reception of Brutalist buildings; from behated concrete monsters to endangered monuments whose expressive forms make popular motives on social media.

Yet the term "Brutalism" is evasive and evokes a myriad of different associations. In this theoretical seminar we will therefore approach it by concentrating on the early years of Brutalist architecture (1950-1965) and by raising questions such as: What defines Brutalist architecture? Who coined the term? What motivated the characteristics of Brutalism? Did architects and clients follow an ethical or ideological agenda, or did they simply explore the aesthetic potentials of concrete and other raw materials? What are the monuments that best represent Brutalist architecture? Which political and cultural-historical developments are reflected in these buildings?

To cope with the complexity of the topic, we will begin the seminar with reading sessions of seminal texts, only to raise further and precise research questions. Students will then try to formulate answers to some of these questions by researching and presenting (partially on site) selected monuments, architects or typologies.

English-speaking students are welcome. All further details regarding the language of the course will be discussed during our first meeting.



Elective Module
M. Sc. | all semesters


Kick-Off: Wednesday, October 18, 2023, 10 to 11:30am, AGes Library
Regular date: Wednesdays, 10 to 11:30am, place to be announced


Dr.-Ing. Felix Martin