Beauty and the Beast

Is Brutalism beautiful? Or is it a concrete beast that stains our landscape? Beauty will always be subjective and Brutalism will continue to elicit strong reactions, but demolishing these urban brutes is not the answer. We must restore and breathe new life into these ageing structures; landscape architects are the heroes taming the beast.


Developed in response to the post-World War II housing crisis, brutalism was celebrated for its starkness, simplicity and lack of unnecessary adornment. However, by the 1970s, the architectural movement began to fall from grace as the public felt that it didn’t provide uplifting icons of post-war development.    

Today, Brutalism is experiencing a revival, in part due to a trend in celebrating raw materials making concrete a hit on social media, but also because of how these, often neglected, concrete spaces are being transformed by landscape architects. The Barbican in London, for example, has become a sensation on Instagram thanks in part to the phenomenal steppe planting by Nigel Dunnett, Professor of Planting Design and Urban Horticulture at the University of Sheffield.