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What is Brutalism?

 What is Brutalism?

To understand the essence of Brutalism, one should start at the etymology of the term itself. Although now frequently associated with the perceived “brutality" of postwar modernist buildings, the name of the movement actually comes from the French term "béton-brut” - or Raw Concrete. Evidently, reinforced concrete is a central part of most Brutalist structures. Enabled by a multitude of new construction techniques, recent engineering breakthroughs pertaining to architecture and the rapid growth of welfare housing in Europe following the Second World War, Brutalism emerged as a somewhat controversial but understandably necessary offshoot of the Modernist movement. It was functional, often inexpensive (due to its simplicity in terms of material choice and lack of ornamentation) - and most importantly, a much-needed visual change as Europe longed to move past the events of the early 20th-century.

The 1960s were objectively, almost measurably, the most exciting and artistically rich period in which to be an architect. There was never before such a fertile soil for those designing buildings, and there may never be again. Brutalism was the high point of architecture in the entire history of humanity.
— Barnabas Calder (in "Raw Concrete")

Of course, this period of history was perhaps the most significant one in India's own chronology as well. Newly independent, energetic and eager to move past colonialism, India was desperately searching for a visual identity signifying its reconstruction as well. Jawaharlal Nehru, spearheading this call for a new architectural image in India, ironically settled on the French architect Le Corbusier to develop the city of Chandigarh, a symbol of Indian innovation and progress. To anyone familiar with Modernism, or architecture at all, Corbusier is a household name - and his visionary plan for the city of Chandigarh successfully created a fervour for Modernism within India. Now seeking to become a major world power and establish its name on an international level, India was ready to develop its own striking identity over the next three decades in a series of impressive architectural feats, many of which are situated in Delhi. Most of these buildings were commissioned by the government themselves, and they seem to represent a period of unified progress in which the municipal corporations and visionary architects collaborated on the creation of several stunning buildings that are not only significant to the movement of Brutalism but also to modern Indian history.