Book review: Atlas of Brutalist Architecture (Phaidon)

Shortly after I purchased and reviewed the excellent This Brutal World (review here) I was made aware of an all-encompassing brutalist tome being constructed by the same publisher. Now available, Atlas of Brutalist Architecture (AoBA) is a colossus of a book.  In size, weight, scope, and content, the AoBA is an ode to brutalist architecture.  A lovingly crafted book by the Phaidon editorial team that is suitable for anyone who has affection for the often ostracized architectural style.

 College Life Insurance Company Of America Headquarters, Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo & Associates, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, 1972. Picture credit: Courtesy of Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates

College Life Insurance Company Of America Headquarters, Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo & Associates, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, 1972. Picture credit: Courtesy of Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates

The book is arranged into nine different continental regions meaning if, for instance, your interest lies in Eastern European brutalism, you can easily navigate to the appropriate section.  By organising the book in this way the editors have shown how deeply the brutalist movement took root across the globe. 

The photography is excellent throughout and includes over 1000 gorgeous duotone photographs of 878 buildings from 102 countries.  The AoBA provides the reader with page after page of beautifully shot images, all of which come with accompanying explanatory text.  There is also a nice introduction providing an overview discussing the past, present, and future of the subject.

 Rozzol Melara, Carlo Celli, Trieste, Italy, 1982. Picture credit: Roberto Conte

Rozzol Melara, Carlo Celli, Trieste, Italy, 1982. Picture credit: Roberto Conte

This is hardly a book you are going speed through in one sitting, rather the AoBA is book you can (and no doubt will) return to on numerous occasions for your architectural hit. Any volume of this size will always benefit from repeat viewing. 

At £100 this is an expensive book.  I am sure it will be available at a lower price by researching different sellers online but such a hefty price tag may dissuade certain buyers, especially those who are new in their appreciation to brutalist architecture.  That being said, I doubt anyone would need to purchase any other book on the subject.  Everything is here.

 Stamp House, Charles Wright Architects, Cape Tribulation, Queensland, Australia, 2013. Picture credit: Patrick Bingham-Hall

Stamp House, Charles Wright Architects, Cape Tribulation, Queensland, Australia, 2013. Picture credit: Patrick Bingham-Hall

If you love big, bold, brutalist architecture then this big, bold, brutalist book is a must. The photography is excellent and effectively displays the breadth of architectural styles found within the brutalist movement.  Brutalist architecture can be imposing, industrial, delicate, ornate, and beautiful, and it is all here in this single book.

More information about the Atlas of Brutalist Architecture and more images can be found here

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DETAILS: Title: Atlas of Brutalist Architecture. Author: Phaidon Editors. Format: Hardback. Size: 340mm x 240mm (13 3/8 x 9 1/2 in). Pages: 560pp. Illustrations: 1000 illustrations. ISBN: 9780714875668. Publisher: Phaidon