In his book “The New Brutalism in Architecture: Ethical or Aesthetic?,” Reyner Banham establishes what he deems the semantic roots of the term 'Brutalism,' explaining that it comes from one of the " indisputable turning points in architecture, the construction of Le Corbusier's concrete masterpiece, la Unité d'habitation de Marseille. It was Corbusier's own word for raw or rough-cast concrete, "Béton brut," that made Brutalism a mainstay in architectural jargon and, in many ways, the term, as well as the architecture it described, flourished." In the book, Banham highlights the historical milestone marked by Corbusier's Unite d' Habitation and the socio-political context that shaped it. In steel-starved post-World War II Europe, exposed concrete became the go-to building material within the burgeoning Brutalist movement, which quickly defined itself by its bare-bone, rugged surfaces and dramatic, geometric shapes.
Similar to other forms of architecture, educational buildings--even though tied to certain socioeconomic and political factors--are influenced by the architectural styles of their respective time periods. Combine this with their propensity for monumentality, educational institutions the world over have turned to Brutalism to define their aesthetic and highlight their "institutionalism." In keeping with Brutalist tradition, reinforced concrete is the building material of choice, lending all manner of shapes and textures to these centers for learning.
Along with his work for the articles Brutalism and Collective Living in Europe and Europe's Brutalist Churches and Chapels, photographer Stefano Perego has also covered Brutalism as seen in educational institutions, including universities, primary and secondary schools, institutes, lyceums, and university libraries. In this article, we highlight some of these institutions from throughout Europe, namely Germany, Belgium, Italy, France, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, and the people behind them, including architects Gerd Hänska, Rolf Gutbrod, Enrico Castiglioni, Hermann Fehling, Daniel Gogel, Christoph Parade, Brigitte Parade, Walter Schrempf, Georges Adilon, Guido Canella, Michele Achilli, Daniele Brigidini, and Johannes Van den Broek, among others:
Secondary School (Hückelhoven Auditorium), Christoph Parade and Brigitte Parade
- Year: 1963-1974
- Location: Hückelhoven, Germany
University of Cologne Library, Rolf Gutbrod
- Year: 1964-1968
- Location: Cologne, Germany
Free University of Berlin Institute of Hygiene and Microbiology, Hermann Fehling and Daniel Gogel
- Year: 1966-1974
- Location: Berlin, Germany
Research Institute for Experimental Medicine, Gerd Hänska
- Year: 1969-1972
- Location: Berlin, Germany
Saarland University Canteen, Walter Schrempf and Otto Herbert Hajek
- Year: 1966-1970
- Location: Saarbrücken, Germany
Sainte-Marie Lyon Lyceum, Georges Adilon
- Year: 1976
- Location: La Verpillière, France
"Silvano Fedi" Industrial Technical Institute (Secondary School)
- Year: 1970
- Location: Pistoia, Italy
Primary School, Guido Canella, Michele Achilli, and Daniele Brigidini
- Year: 1972-1981
- Location: Pieve Emanuele, Italy
Regina Maria Adelaide de Aosta Institute
- Year: 1976
- Location: Aosta, Italy
Arturo Tosi State Scientific Lyceum, Enrico Castiglioni
- Year: 1980-1985
- Location: Busto Arsizio, Italy
Delft University of Technology Lecture Hall, Johannes Van den Broek and Jaap Bakema
- Year: 1966
- Location: Delft, Netherlands
- Check out more of Stefano Perego's work as well as his Instagram.
- See more Educational Architecture as well as more articles on Brutalist Architecture.
Stefano Perego (1984) is an architectural photographer based in Milan, Italy. He collaborates frequently with architectural studios as well as artists and is the co-author of the book SOVIET ASIA (Modern Soviet Architecture of Central Asia). His interest in architecture of the second half of the 20th century has been the focal point of his photography capturing Modernist, Brutalist, and Postmodernist works.