Flick through ‘Brutal Wales’, a book celebrating concrete architecture

‘Brutal Wales’ book zooms into a selection of concrete Welsh architecture treasures through the lens of photographer Simon Phipps

Brutal Wales: Brambell Building, Bangor University
Brambell Building, Bangor University
(Image credit: Simon Phipps)

Brutal Wales is a treat – both for lovers of brutalist architecture and concrete buildings, but also for history and photography enthusiasts, as it offers an indulgent journey through a series of established and lesser-known Welsh gems of the particular genre. All are seen through the lens of accomplished photographer Simon Phipps, who explored Welsh modernist architecture through a total of 60 case studies, found in this new book by September Publishing. 

Brutal Wales book cover

(Image credit: Simon Phipps)

Brutal Wales: a deep dive into Welsh 20th-century architecture

Following up on Phipps' earlier photographic survey, Finding Brutalism, which looked at the architecture movement's expressions across the UK, this new architecture book focuses on Wales, taking a deep dive into a series of modernist finds. 

Brutal Wales: West Glamorgan County Hall (now Swansea Civic Centre)

West Glamorgan County Hall (now Swansea Civic Centre)

(Image credit: Simon Phipps)

‘In their bold imagination and visionary execution [these buildings] help connect us to a period in our history that is all too easily overlooked and neglected – the recent past,' writes John Grindrod in the book's introduction.

Brutal Wales: Bell Tower (La Campanile) Aberystwyth University

Bell Tower (La Campanile), Aberystwyth University

(Image credit: Simon Phipps)

The buildings included span the width and breadth of Wales – from an electricity substation in Swansea and the Margam Crematorium to rare interiors of the Trostre steelworks and the undercroft of the George Street Bridge in Newport.

Brutal Wales: County Hall, Mold

County Hall, Mold

(Image credit: Simon Phipps)

Brutal Wales forms the latest in a series of publications by Phipps, who has been investigating brutalist architecture across the country for more than 20 years. 

Brutal Wales: The Crown Buildings (Cathays Park Buildings), Cardiff

The Crown Buildings (Cathays Park Buildings), Cardiff

(Image credit: Simon Phipps)

'They are fragments from another age, but in their modernity contain the stirrings of change that foreshadow devolution, an even grander project that would only come to pass some decades later,' Grindrod's introduction continues. 

Brutal Wales: George Street Bridge Newport

George Street Bridge, Newport

(Image credit: Simon Phipps)

The book is designed by Marc Jennings, and comes with both Welsh and English language text throughout. A collaborative exhibition between Swansea Museum and Phipps will mark the book's launch in the spring of 2024. 

Available to pre-order, £30, septemberpublishing.org and amazon.co.uk

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).