Lifestyle

Brutalism in Photos, London’s Dystopian Landscapes

Christ Church, Lambeth © Jo Underhill
Wellbeck Street Car Park © Jo Underhill

From left to right: Christ Church, Lambeth, John Peter Darvall, built 1960 / Wellbeck Street Car Park, Michael Blampied and Partners, built 1970, both photographed by Jo Underhill

London is a city of contrasts and for every curvaceous, flowing construction of glass and steel, there’s one of blocky, monolithic proportions, the kind of structure that makes up the real concrete jungle.

While many of the former get celebrated in all their shining glory, for us it’s Brutalist buildings of the 60s and 70s that have come to define London. The stark, functionalist architectural style is like nothing else out there, equal parts utilitarian beauty and dystopian utilitarianism. Yet while they are indeed spectacular, many of these buildings might not be long for this world.

Barbican, City of London © Simon Phipps
Institute of Education © Simon Phipps

From left to right: Barbican, City of London; designed by Chamberlin Powell and Bon, built 1962-82 / Keeling House, Bethnal Green; designed by Denys Lasdun & Partners, built 1957-59, both photographed by Simon Phipps

As photographer Jo Underhill puts it, “Unfortunately, a few of the buildings I’ve photographed have now gone and many from this era are dismissed as ugly or unfit so demolished without much thought or public outcry that so many great buildings are being lost. As well as a visual documentation of these buildings I want my photographs to show how well made, stunning and beautiful they are.”

Trellick Tower © Hayley Goodwin
Southbank Centre ‘yellow stairwell' © Hayley Goodwin

From left to right: Trellick Tower, Ernő Goldfinger, Built 1972 / Southbank Centre ‘yellow stairwell’, Ron Herron, Dennis Crompton and Warren Chalk, built 1951, Restored and Redesigned 2018, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, both photographed by Hayley Goodwin

So, to make sure we gave Brutalist architecture in London the platform it deserves, we enlisted a trio of photographers that have captured some of the capital’s most architecturally significant buildings in all their glory. Alongside Jo Underhill (visit website here) we have creator of photographic book Brutal London, amongst many others, Simon Phipps (visit website here) and Instagram account @brutalist_citizen, who’s also known as Hayley Goodwin.

We encourage you to go and support their work and, if one of these shots particularly catches your eye, nab a print or two.

About the author

Sam Kessler

Legend has it that Sam’s first word was ‘escapement’ and, while he might have started that legend himself, he’s been in the watch world long enough that it makes little difference. As the editor of Oracle Time, he’s our leading man for all things horological – even if he does love yellow dials to a worrying degree. Owns a Pogue; doesn’t own an Oyster Perpetual. Yet.

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