Concrete celebration: exploring brutalism through the lens of Simon Phipps

Concrete celebration: exploring brutalism through the lens of Simon Phipps

Our admiration for all things concrete is part of our DNA, so when we found out about fine art photographer Simon Phipps’ new book on brutalist architecture, we were rubbing our hands together in glee; and when the book reached our offices, it did not disappoint.

Filled with Phipps’ distinctive photographic compositions, this is a richly produced tome. The photographer spent more than 20 years, documenting brutalist architecture in Britain, creating a hefty archive of about 125 buildings. The book features some 200 takes of those, making for an impressive collection to reference and savour.

Yet if you think that this is all about aesthetics, think again. Phipps, in effect, follows through his lens the rebuilding of Britain after World War II. His numerous photographs of Brutalist masterpieces not only appeal to the eye and refined tastes, but also ‘recognises the architects’ enormous contribution to the transformation of the political and social landscape of the country’ in the aftermath of the war, explain the publishers.

Travelling north and south, east and west, the book includes Phipps’ imagery on dramatic structures, such as the Barbican Estate in London (1965-1976), by architects Chamberlin, Powell and Bon; Trinity Square Car Park in Gateshead (1962-1967), by Rodney Gordon for the Owen Luder Partnership; the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King in Liverpool, by Frederick Gibberd (1962-67); and the Queen Margaret Union at the University of Glasgow, by Walter Underwood & Partners (1968).

Phipps’ Finding Brutalism photographic survey, which was also presented in a namesake exhibition at the Museum in Bellpark, Kriens, Switzerland earlier this autumn, is now available from Park Books.