Brutalist Communications

A fellow creative recently told me that his wife was into “brutalist” architecture – the bunker-like buildings with exposed concrete walls from the 60s and 70s. The University of Toronto library is a good example:

The Montreal metro is in the same vein:

During a recent road trip to see the largest hydroelectric dam in Quebec – the Robert Bourassa station (formerly La Grande II) – I tasted an extreme version of this aesthetic:

The picture doesn’t do justice to the “cathedral”, as they call it. Not only was the scale impressive, but the designers had really paid attention to detail: even the machinery was colour coordinated. The whir of the rotors added to the amazing sensory experience.

Now, this is a communications blog, and it’s clear that brutalist architecture was making a statement :

It was a time when society thought the future of science-fiction novelists was upon us. Le Corbusier and the new modernist movement sought to eradicate the past (…)

Hydro-Quebec certainly played a big part in Quebec’s coming-of-age, and the dam represented a certain faith in technology and big government-led projects. So, next time you see a concrete building, try not to think of it as drab, but rather as a symbol of high-tech optimism!







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