19 November 2009

Almost Beautiful, Definitely Brutal


Erosion ∕ Hardscape ∕ Objects

When we at SLAB coined the term ‘brutiful’, these scrappy, decaying East German pre-cast pebble-textured bench/planter things wasn’t quite what we were thinking of. Almost, but not quite.


To refer to them as simply brutal would suffice, with a capital “B” – Brutal – perhaps not. I’m not sure if Reyner Banham could handle the term being applied to something that’s so fucking ugly at first glance. But the idea is elegant; that a single shape could be configured in two different ways and repeated so as to form infinite combinations of benches or planters.


Now, of course, its only weeds that are growing in the exposed cavities. I’m sure that these things would be summarily carted off and crushed to pieces long before anyone would go to the far more cost-effective measure of planting some geraniums in them.

I also wonder if it’s at all conceiveable that any hot-shit avant neo-brutal architect would ever dare to employ this pebble-coat type surface. It was all the rage back in the 60’s and 70’s, in the Western world as well. I remember an octogonally-shaped drive-up bank in Charlottesville, Virginia that was covered in it, punctuated by dark brown tinted plate glass windows.