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Discussion Starter #1
Just saying, that whenever I've read a manifesto outlining redevelopment of city centres, very little is usually mentioned about demolition of poor quality architecture. It mainly seems to involve public realm improvements. While this is important, I think that improving the architectural quality should come first.

Is it just me or does anyone else agree?
 

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Human Being
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Most would agree, I suspect - but then you'd also end up with controversy too. For example the recent storm over the proposed demolition of Preston's brutalist bus station. Now 'rescued'.

Plus there just does not appear to be the will in this country for demolition purely on aesthetic grounds; and more, new, cheap, tacky things are getting thrown up by the day.
 

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I can think of several projects where clearance of Brutalist architecture was a prime motivator for redevelopment. The demoition of the Tricorn Centre in Portsmouth is one, the plans to demolish Birmingham Library another.

Having said that I don't think Brutalism as a style is automatically ugly. Preston Bus Station, while fairly run down is an attractive building as car parks go, the National Theatre is certainly striking and very attractive inside, the Barbican is a bit of a unnavigable mess, but from the garden side it's actually quite pleasant and many people love it. And therein lies the problem with 'aesthetics' based demolition; who is to say what ugly is? If something is falling apart, serves no economic or social purpose or encourages crime or anti-social behaviour then you can make a fairly strong argument to remove it. But if a building works to the function for which it was designed, but is just considered ugly you will still find some people who love it, and why should one view of ugly be taken over another?
 

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Just saying, that whenever I've read a manifesto outlining redevelopment of city centres, very little is usually mentioned about demolition of poor quality architecture. It mainly seems to involve public realm improvements. While this is important, I think that improving the architectural quality should come first.

Is it just me or does anyone else agree?
Birmngham's spent the last sixty years cheerfully bulldozing what the council considers to be "poor quality architecture" and replacing it with shiny new buildings. This happy go lucky demolition-led redevelopment is, I think, one of the things that defines our streetscape.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Not to mention, if Poland can afford to build aesthetically pleasing, functional New Builds/ reconstructions, why can't Britain?! It just makes me so angry! We could be rebuilding our cities to the standard of continental cities historic centres, but no, we waste our money either restoring 60s builds, or popping up shiny glass boxes.

Now I speak as a layman, but I swear the only people who ever have any kind of sympathy/ liking of 60s Brutalism are architects themselves. This is exactly their problem- they don't listen to what PEOPLE WANT!
 

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I don't get this obsession with rebuilding lost buildings that date back hundreds of years. It isn't the same at all. It kind of sucks that all those Tudor buildings you see in Chester are really just 20th century mock versions of the original.

There are great examples of brutalist architecture as well - it isn't all bad.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I don't get this obsession with rebuilding lost buildings that date back hundreds of years ago. It isn't the same at all.
Because it looks nice, and gives you pride in your country/city. A lot of people, apart from British architects, seem to agree! :)
 

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Oh well - go back in time and ask British architects of the 60s why they saw fit to build a bunch of concrete commie blocks instead of reviving old buildings lost in the war.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Because it looks nice, and gives you pride in your country/city. A lot of people, apart from British architects, seem to agree! :)
Just too add on: I wouldn't have a problem with rebuilding with contemporary architecture, if it actually CONTRIBUTED TO THE STREETSCAPE! As in, if it used proper building materials i.e not just glass or concrete, doesn't overly stand out, and has at least SOME level of artistic styling. Architects managed artistic styling just fine in the 1920s/ 30s with Art deco architecture- arguably when there was an even bigger financial slump than the 60s/70s!
 

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Listed brutalist architecture in Leeds.





It'd be a shame if they knocked them down. They're fine buildings.

Just too add on: I wouldn't have a problem with rebuilding with contemporary architecture, if it actually CONTRIBUTED TO THE STREETSCAPE! As in, if it used proper building materials i.e not just glass or concrete, doesn't overly stand out, and has at least SOME level of artistic styling. Architects managed artistic styling just fine in the 1920s/ 30s with Art deco architecture- arguably when there was an even bigger financial slump than the 60s/70s!
I don't think money has anything to do with it. British architects of the 60s genuinely though what they were planning would be 'housing of the future' (in the case of planned developments). It's like how the Victorians pulled down architecture from preceding periods in history and replaced them with their own. The only difference is we value Victorian architecture, but don't value brutalist architecture, but back then, people didn't seem to care as much.

Of course we can look back in retrospect and realise that pulling down all of those beautiful buildings was wrong, but in some cases, it isn't too bad - we lost many beautiful buildings in Leeds, but the loss of those buildings allowed something else to replace them - almost always, they are important and contribute massively to our city. There would be no Trinity shopping centre today, for example.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Listed brutalist architecture in Leeds.





It'd be a shame if they knocked them down. They're fine buildings.



I don't think money has anything to do with it. British architects of the 60s genuinely though what they were planning would be 'housing of the future' (in the case of planned developments). It's like how the Victorians pulled down architecture from preceding periods in history and replaced them with their own. The only difference is we value Victorian architecture, but don't value brutalist architecture.

That building you show above isn't too bad- it does have some arty pattern on it. Still extremely blocky and monolithic mind.
It's just a shame British architecture has continuously demolished historic buildings, and never properly embraced renaissance, baroque and art nouveau architecture, probably the three most beautiful styles of architecture ever created!
 

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In your opinion.

Much more offensive to me are the identikit Barrat boxes that attempt to disguise their cheapness and lack of design with flashes of plasticised period drag; but other people like them so who am I to complain?

You clearly like ornament, but the problem with ornament on buildings is it's expensive, it needs constant maintenance and if not executed well it looks tacky. No style is above poor execution.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
In your opinion.

Much more offensive to me are the identikit Barrat boxes that attempt to disguise their cheapness and lack of design with flashes of plasticised period drag; but other people like them so who am I to complain?

You clearly like ornament, but the problem with ornament on buildings is it's expensive, it needs constant maintenance and if not executed well it looks tacky. No style is above poor execution.
I do like ornament- it doesn't have to have it for me to like it, but it does appear to have largely disappeared from architecture in this country, regardless of how large or small the cost would be.

Now personally, I would prefer architecture in Britain to go two ways- either:

A: Faithful reconstructions of historic architecture- but mostly in the smaller historic cities, i.e Exeter, Worcester, Chester etc.

B: Contemporary- but artistically designed architecture. An example from Prague here to illustrate my point.


http://i1.trekearth.com/photos/89575/dancing_house_prague.jpg


I think buildings like this could look great in Leeds, Leicester or Liverpool.
 

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I really like Lyon's approach to its new builds - looks as if some real thought and consideration has been put into devising a vision or 'guide to...' for how modern architecture can complement and work in and for the city.
 

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That street looks grim - it sort of reminds me of Dundee's old Overgate (demolished late 90s).

That said, I like the big urban trees!
 

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Leeds Listed Brutalism

Those buildings don't look too bad .There appears to be little evidence of unsightly weathering/staining which so often affects brutalist cladding with our damp climate.Maybe they've been treated/cleaned?
 
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