Brutalist buildings join National Heritage List

Some daring choices have been made by English Heritage when selecting the latest additions to the National Heritage List, with four modern buildings taking the honours and acquiring Grade II or Grade II Listed status.

A Cold War bunker, a Brutalist electricity substation, a warehouse and a private home have all been recognised as having architectural merit and historical significance. The substation, in Sheffield, was designed by Bryan Jefferson and is the type of structure that tends to divide opinion. Massive in scale and almost wholly operated by remote control, the concrete behemoth has an inhuman quality and has been described as “a vast automaton”.

The bunker, in Gravesend, was a command post which housed around three dozen people in the Cold War and was intended to operate during a Soviet attack, issuing orders to emergency and civil defence services. Having remained in operation until 1968, the bunker was recently restored and is currently open for public viewing from time to time.

In Swindon, a 1980 Renault warehouse designed by Norman Foster received listed status due to its distinctive appearance. Glass walls, with exposed supporting cables and poles, make the warehouse look so unusual that it once featured in a James Bond film.

While the stark looks of Brutalist buildings are not appreciated by everyone, some see beauty in their simple forms, and an English Heritage exhibition in London called ‘Brutal and Beautiful’, opening on September 25th, examines attitudes towards this type of architecture. An architect in Chester might be able to use aspects of these bold forms in building projects for clients who are attracted to such monumental structures.

Posted by Matt Hughes
September 24, 2013
Architecture in the Media

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