"The Failure of the Preservation of Brutalism in Birmingham, England"
Dootson, Kelsey, Architectural History - School of Architecture, University of Virginia
Crane, Sheila, Department of Architectural History, University of Virginia
Wilson, Richard, Department of Architectural History, University of Virginia
Johnston, Andrew, Department of Architectural History, University of Virginia
Brutalism in Birmingham has not been included in discussions on postwar reconstruction. Birmingham, however, has a lot to offer to discussions. It was an example of local government involved with reconstruction. The city did not have official city plans and the councillors opted to use local architects when possible. This created a specific experience of the city. Birmingham was rebuilt for Brummies by Brummies. They reclaimed their image and decided how others would view the city. The result being a fashionable, modern city, fit for transportation and people needs. The city became defined by their postwar reconstruction. Birmingham, however, continues to strive to be a forward-looking, modern city. This has resulted in the demolition of its postwar architecture, particularly Brutalist structures. The removal of this time period removes the rebuilding narrative from the city’s visual heritage. Birmingham is becoming less about itself as an independent city and more about how it can adapt to fit the future. By attempting to fit in with other cities, Birmingham is losing identity—a city that will continue to thrive and survive on its own. The issue of the preservation of Brutalism is not isolated to Birmingham. Because of the rate at which they are destroying these buildings, the city provides a case study of what happens when people want to and do remove postwar architecture. Though Brutalism is a divisive approach to architecture, seen primarily as a style, it still holds importance as a now historic approach. It was, and is, representative of education and practice at the time, along with a sense of overcoming adversity and destruction.
MARH (Master of Architectural History)
Brutalism, Birmingham, England, Preservation, Postwar reconstruction, West Midlands, England, Warwickshire, England