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Why Brutalism Is Least Ugly in Brazil
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From the New York Times:

The Unexpectedly Tropical History of Brutalism

Long associated with European cities, the style has plenty of history in other parts of the world, too.

In Brazil, it reached a surprising apotheosis.

By Michael Snyder, Aug. 15, 2019

In other words, Brutalist architecture looks least ugly in tropical countries where all that raw concrete quickly gets swallowed up by The Jungle so that after a few years you can barely see the buildings anymore.

For example, here are two Brutalist concrete chairs.

One problem with chairs made out of concrete is that, because they presumably weigh hundreds of pounds, you can’t move them out of the way of the expanding vegetation.

But, then again, that they will eventually disappear into the relentless forest is perhaps a feature rather than a bug when it comes to concrete chairs.

Of course, raw concrete walls in a rainy climate tend to quickly look terrible.

For example, here is a 2014 house featured in the NYT Magazine article.

It already looks weather-beaten after 5 years.

And it would be a Betrayal of the Architect’s Vision to paint the wall, so it’s not going to get better.

But in another 10 years or so, hopefully, it will have vanished behind the verdure.

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  1. Altai says:

    OT: It looks like Wexner is laying tribute to the woke gods to spare him.

    This comes after he recently abruptly cancelled this years Victoria’s Secret fashion show in the wake of Epstein’s arrest and his crazy cover stories about his very close relationship with him.

  2. Nah, the reason is much simpler: contrast.

    I’m not sure if the Getty Center qualifies as Brutalist (not enough concrete?), but if you plopped it down in the middle of Century City, it’d be a curiosity at best, an eyesore more likely. But cradled against the hills in the Sepulveda Pass, it takes on a kind of weird, noble beauty. Kind of like that austere black oblong thingy that all the monkeys were grunting at in 2001.

    I’ve never seen a Tadao Ando building in person, but I bet they’d look cool up in the hills, but kinda blasé in the middle of downtown Yokohama.

  3. Kronos says:

    That’s like marrying a ugly chick because she’ll soon look like a female Cousin Itt. Her hair will eventually envelop her and you’ll no longer care.

  4. My architect neighbor told me that’s what ivy is for. I was showing him an ugly, concrete corner on my house.

    • Replies: @Pericles
    , @SunBakedSuburb
  5. Frank Lloyd Wright apparently went through his own infatuation with both concrete and faux Mayan design while he was in LA.

    Even in LA, however, unfinished concrete blocks have a lot of problems. Also, it turns out people don’t really like living in ersatz Mayan temples.

    • Replies: @Clifford Brown
  6. Why do our lib/left media elites keep trying to make the case for Brutalism, which is pretty much self-evidently one of the biggest mistakes ever in the history of culture?

    Somewhat OT: the conservative philosopher Roger Scruton (who has written wonderfully about architecture, as well as about many other things) is currently fighting cancer.

  7. Kronos says:

    I love how they state “openly” transgender. Imagine Epstein getting ready to bang a model and it’s like *surprise.*

  8. Kronos says:
    @Paleo Retiree

    Because a few of them own most national-level concrete companies?

  9. Anon[351] • Disclaimer says:

    I’ve never heard of the term brutalisman applied to residential architecture. Although I dislike big, high-rise buildings of this type, there are a lot of concrete homes and small doctors offices in Tokyo, and they tend to be seriously cool looking, even without jungle. You don’t see them right next to one another or all in a row, which may help. A lot of Japanese urban residential architecture uses a sort of de-Hispanicized Southern California Irving Gill stacked cube style, both for wood and for concrete construction, and it works well in tight quarters.

  10. If you put enough texture in your brutal concrete and throw some seeds on it, you could end up with a Chia Pet building.

    But then you would just have green brutalism.

  11. @Altai

    Why do you think this is OT ?



    Least Ugly?




  12. @Altai

    Does that mean that Coloneless Natalya could also finally land her dream job with Pink?

    • Replies: @Alden
    , @getaclue
  13. @Paleo Retiree

    Somewhat OT: the conservative philosopher Roger Scruton (who has written wonderfully about architecture, as well as about many other things) is currently fighting cancer.

    I certainly commiserate with Sir Roger – in a way we are all fighting cancer.

  14. Brutalist buildings are like man-made winters in one small place, so it makes sense that we should enjoy the sight of them being swallowed up by greenery. Brazil is the perfect place for this to happen. It’s the country with “order and progress” on its flag but the jungle everywhere else.

  15. @Altai

    Weimerica’s true colors are Black, Pink, and…Blue:

  16. One problem with chairs made out of concrete is that, because they presumably weigh hundreds of pounds, you can’t move them out of the way of the expanding vegetation.

    Concrete doesn’t rot as quickly as a wooden chair would.

  17. El Dato says:

    Whats going on in Brazil anyway?

    Apart from them having a president who needs to be ejected into non-returnable orbit by all means available with just half a bottle of oxygen?

    ‘How is that non-news?’ Lee Camp REVEALS why MSM choose to ignore Honduras & Brazil unrest

    Brazil, “the largest of countries Americans don’t care about,” has been rocked by a massive strike led by trade unions. Over 45 million people there – “can you imagine 45 million Americans agreeing on everything?” – are protesting against the right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro and his controversial pension reform.

  18. Brasilia is regarded by most as the ugliest city in the world. I think it’s beautiful, in a surreal kind of way Call me crazy.

  19. “One problem with chairs made out of concrete is that, because they presumably weigh hundreds of pounds,”

    A single wheelbarrow of concrete weights about 400-450 pounds.

  20. jb says:

    I actually rather like the look of raw concrete walls! At their best I find them reminiscent of a granite cliff or outcropping somewhere, and I don’t think that’s unattractive at all.

  21. Unfortunately Brasilia, an entirely brutalist planned city, is on the plains. Everything is stark, bare and hideously ugly.

  22. NickG says:

    Raw concrete looks terrible.

    However it is easy to add colourant when mixing the concrete, which makes for a durable attractive coloured finish.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  23. Jack D says:

    And it would be a Betrayal of the Architect’s Vision to paint the wall, so it’s not going to get better.

    Two words: Pressure Washer. Those things are amazing.

    • Replies: @Jim Don Bob
  24. Pericles says:
    @Buzz Mohawk

    Rumor had it the School of Architecture in Stockholm (below) was intended to be covered with vines. But, alas, the vines never thrived on the concrete. Perhaps it was poisonous.

    Ivy failed to conquer it.

  25. Hodag says:

    To steal a line, planting vines helps.

  26. Jack D says:

    here is a 2014 house

    Wow, someone is still doing Brutalism in 2019. I thought it went out in 1978.

    If you get really, really sick of looking at the bare concrete and the holes left behind by the form ties, you can always put a skin on the building. Basically a Brutalist building is like any other poured concrete building at a certain stage of construction, before you install the exterior curtain wall. So you can always go back and add the skin later in order to turn it into a finished building that is not an eyesore. This is what they tried to do at the Grenfell Tower, except that instead of a real aluminum skin the low bidder Chinese material supplier provided a material that was two layers of aluminum foil sandwiched between flammable plastic. From a distance, and as long as you don’t hit it with any sharp objects or light it on fire, it looks just like solid aluminum, at least until the foil starts to delaminate.

  27. Jack D says:

    A very common trick in advertising is to display your cheap crappy item in a context with much more expensive and attractive items. Say you have a cheap Chinese made synthetic fabric dress. You are not going to put a picture of it in an ad hanging limply on a hanger under the fluorescent lights and in front of the metal racks at Target. You are going to put that dress on a beautiful thin model who is wearing expensive jewelry and shoes and photograph her inside a European palace – suddenly that $19.99 dress (wholesale cost $5) looks like a million bucks. Then you go to Target to buy it and there it is, hanging limply on a hanger under the fluorescent lights and in front of the metal racks and it looks like the schmatte it really is.

    Same thing with architecture – in a lush tropical forest, that Brutalist house looks pretty good. Among the vacant lots of Detroit it would look like just one more abandoned factory.

  28. BB753 says:
    @bored identity

    America wants you.. for gender reassignment!

    This painting should become an Uncle Sam meme, now reborn as Auntie Wilma!

  29. camons says:

    As a Brazilian, I have to say that Sailer is, once again, spot-on: whenever there is no greenery, these things stand out like a sore concrete thumb (see Niemeyer’s “Memorial da América Latina”, which, although strictly speaking not really a Brutalist ensemble, shares a few characteristics with the style).

  30. Steve, anyone that describes brutalism as ugly knows nothing about architecture.

  31. Alden says:
    @bored identity

    Pretty hair might be a wig. Man’s face about 100 pounds overweight huge bust probably fake.

    So what is it?

  32. Alden says:

    Now we know the true purpose of the transgender movement. It’s so men can fight back against the feminazi takeover of previously male occupations such as furniture mover fireman police longshoreman and sports.

    I mean, if the critter classifies itself as a woman it fills the quota and men get their traditional jobs and sports teams back.

    There was a time when 5’8 normal thin women could be live fashion models in the runways. But the gay fashion designers demanded successively taller and skinnier built like 10 year old boys models

    Soon they reached the limit. I mean, exactly how many 6’2 skinny really skinny young women are there in the world???

    So now the gay male fashion industry is turning to young men as there are a lot more 6 ft skinny men around than women.

    Look at that persons face. It looks a lot like a high school jr boy I know who’s on his school’s football team. And those artificial lips and men’s eyebrows.

    • Replies: @E e
  33. Concrete brutalist-inspired structures actually fit well in the tropics because of nature. I think this article is spot-on.
    It’s similar to sinking an old ship to become a reef. It’s only a matter of time until the vines and growths take over, and use the building as a trellis.
    Even these days I have a rather boxy structure with an A-Frame roof of which I seek the right vines to get climbing all over it.

  34. getaclue says:
    @bored identity

    For those who don’t know this is “Jennifer” Pritzker– an ex-Army Colonel (pre-Trans….) billionaire and part of the Chicago Pritzker Family of Billionaires and Leftist Political “Fixers”–they basically gave us Obama, without them no Obama– they also basically have hoisted the Transgender Agenda on the USA–by funding massively the agenda and using their unbelievable political power/influence with Obama, and otherwise, to get Transgenders into the Military, the little girls’ room and your face. — another Pritzker is Governor of Illinois and just decided that Transgender Sex Surgeries are payable by Medicaid i.e. you the Taxpayers will pay the bill for them. — There is no mass movement for this, not even close to majority support–nor was there a homosexual “marriage” mass movement, they are less than 3% of the Population and couldn’t get Gay “Marriage” past even in California by vote or anywhere — but these tiny groups have unlimited funds and political influence and they use it to change your society to strip your “whitey” rights away, your 1st Am Rights, your 2nd Am Rights and place “New” Rights elsewhere–like here–looking at you in the photo… most people are clueless as to how this works or how it happened, right here is how….

    • Agree: Jim Don Bob
    • Replies: @MBlanc46
  35. @Jack D

    Three words: Gas Pressure Washer. FIFY.

    • Replies: @Jack D
  36. @Hypnotoad666

    Half the times that you visit one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterworks, they are closed for a structural repair or maintenance, especially his concrete heavy designs. I think I visited the Hollyhock House in Hollywood four different times before I managed to find a day when it was not closed for “emergency” structural repairs. I am still a fan, but any rational person has to realize that from an engineering and maintenance perspective, Wright was a train wreck.

    • Agree: Jim Don Bob
    • Replies: @anonymous
    , @Dan Hayes
    , @Kyle
    , @David
  37. anonymous[299] • Disclaimer says:
    @Clifford Brown

    “Falling Water” was famous for being structurally unsound the way Wright initially designed it. Thus the ancient rivalry of engineers and architects.

  38. Bland modernism looks okay against spectacular backdrops with which architects would be fools to compete with. E.g., Pacific rim cities up against mountain ranges. Also, each building serves as a tile in a large mosaic.

    Cariocas, though graced with two dramatic peaks, should have thought twice about the change to a new, paganesque cathedral.

    The old one:

    The new one:

    • Replies: @Kyle
  39. @Paleo Retiree

    Brutalism is ugly. It is also cold and alienating. That’s why I don’t hate it.

  40. @Altai

    Interesting theory, which implies the current ruling cabal is pushing transgenderism, gender fluidity, and the distortion of human norms. You are correct, sir.

  41. @bored identity

    So what exactly is going on here? Is this some sort of insight into Clinton’s persona that even I could not have conceived of? I like to think that I am pretty creative. I mean, Clinton was always good old boy womanizing Bubba, which frankly never bothered me very much, but might there be more?????

    Imagine if one of your “friends” decided to place a painting of you in drag prominently in their living room. Would you still be “friends” with such person? Now imagine that you are the former PRESIDENT of these United States and your “friend” puts this painting up in his townhouse in Manhattan and then hosts the who’s who of the political and financial elite.

    Would you tolerate this?

    What if you were a plumbing contractor or an accountant at some no name company, would you tolerate this?

    Is the blue dress an homage to the infamous Monica Lewinsky blue dress? It has often been rumored that Clinton’s Lewinsky scandal was driven in part by Mossad spying on Clinton in the Oval Office.

    For those keeping score at home, Epstein’s sweetheart deal with the DA in Palm Beach was negotiated by none other than Ken Starr, author of the infamous Starr Report that lead to impeachment of President Clinton. Remember how the Starr Report was allegedly driven by the moral puritanism and far right Christian prudishness of one Kenneth Starr? I do. So Ken Starr apparently was appalled by Clinton fornicating outside of the sanctity of marriage, but Epstein running an underage sex slave cult involving dozens of underage girls for over a decade is not an offense to Starr’s morality?

    Really gets the olde noggin joggin’.

    How can you not view this painting as Epstein saying to the WORLD ELITE that Bill Clinton is MY BITCH? Am I missing something? What else could this possibly mean?

    Now, if this all means that Clinton is just one of those late stage alpha male MTF transgenders we always read about like Caitlyn Jenner then I am completely on board. I would love nothing more than a reality series on E! about Bill Clinton’s transition to transgenderism in suburban Chappaqua.

    In fact, a transgendered pre-op Bill Clinton entering the 2020 race to become the first woman President of the United States would pretty much seal the deal. I fully endorse this.

  42. @Buzz Mohawk

    Ivy covers a multitude of sins. But beware, those dark green leaves have become havens for all of the funnel-web spiders the Australian migrants have been bringing with them.

  43. I am a low key fan of brutalism when it is done right. And it is very rarely done right. As a rule, it is ugly and dehumanizing, and usually should be avoided.

    But as I have noted in the past, brutalism seems to be not so bad in climes such as Southern California where the bright sun, moderate weather and low precipitation can keep brutal concrete attractive longer than in say in Boston or Brazil.

    On the vegetation front, I made an homage to the brutalist University of California Irvine and am happy to say that with the warm California sun and with copious well placed trees, you really don’t even see the brutalism anymore.

    The University of California Irvine campus, along with Century City, Los Angeles, were the settings of the dystopian, futuristic slave society of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. I visited the brutalist college campus and thanks to all of the trees planted since the Planet of The Apes movie was made, found the campus as pleasant and relatively boring as the rest of Irvine.

    Even talking monkeys with machine guns can’t make Irvine particularly exciting and I think the residents like it that way.

    Was this movie a metaphor for something?

  44. Bruno says:

    Here you have a video of Buzescu, Romania, where rich gypsies live. Romanians go there to laugh.

    I don’t think that even any americas sub-groups would reach such climax in matter of taste :

  45. SFG says:
    @Clifford Brown

    Could be, though it could be a little joke between friends. “See what you got away with, Bill?”

  46. @Clifford Brown

    In fact, a transgendered pre-op Bill Clinton entering the 2020 race to become the first woman President of the United States would pretty much seal the deal. I fully endorse this.

    Donations will then shift from the Second Amendment Foundation to the Twenty-Second Amendment Foundation.

    One fate we will be spared in 2021 is a third Clinton, Obama, or Bush II term.

  47. @Clifford Brown

    How can you not view this painting as Epstein saying to the WORLD ELITE that Bill Clinton is MY BITCH? Am I missing something? What else could this possibly mean?

    Chances are that once upon a time in a galaxy so close so far away, Jeffrey made some prettaaay, prettaaay, prettaaay important people prettaaay, prettaaay, prettaaay happy:

    ” Gevaldig, Katsa U-14, by way of deception, Di Velt is, and will continue to be our OYster Takh-Boo-Law Rasa.”

  48. Almost everything is better in Brazil (well, excepting a few things like some corrupt governmental institutions, sketchy policing, and weird, accepted notions of bribery).

    But Oscar Niemeyer was awesome:ói_Contemporary_Art_Museum

    He was good.

    And I’ve got to admit that I love this place, too:

    The problem with it, though, is that the exhibition area is rather small. Looks so cool from the exterior, but once inside the display space available is disappointing.

  49. @NickG

    Right. Making the concrete look bad is ideology.

  50. MBlanc46 says:

    Former Army colonel who had made his large library of military books available to the public for a small subscription. It’s a shame about his psychological disturbance.

  51. Dan Hayes says:
    @Clifford Brown

    Clifford Brown:

    Frank Lloyd Wright’s works have a well earned reputation for need of remedial repair. But I am aware of one of his works that has stood up quite well: Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel which survived several severe earthquakes relatively unscathed!

  52. Jack D says:
    @Jim Don Bob

    You’re right. Those electric ones are a joke. Just don’t have the HP. Not to mention that water + electricity is not a great idea to begin with. Now if they would only take the f’ing alcohol out of the gas your carb wouldn’t rot. Thanks ADM.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  53. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:

    Or better if they made small engines alcohol proof by putting another two or three dollars’ worth of materials in there. B&S and Honda already know how to do this because they sell ethanol and methanol ready engines to the go kart market and ethanol proof engines in Brazil.

    I have a vintage Gravely T head walkbehind and it runs fine on alcohol gas but will gum up really bad over the winter when not used. So I run it on 100 low lead avgas. I burn about twenty bucks worth in a season.

  54. @Jack D

    ADM, oh man … How many politicians has ADM been in bed with?

    • Replies: @Jim Don Bob
  55. Kyle says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    It doesn’t look catholic, it looks televangelist.

  56. Kyle says:
    @Clifford Brown

    I don’t know much about structural engineering or architecture but I do know concrete driveways tend to crack and crumble.

    • Replies: @Jack D
  57. Olorin says:

    Regarding the Brazil example, during the 2017 Troubles at The Evergreen State College I had occasion to visit the campus, whose older architecture I would possibly wrongly call “brutalist” but which affects me the same aesthetic manner.

    I was told by a former facilities department higher-up that the ugly corrugated or flat concrete buildings sit there looking that way because they had originally been intended to be covered by climbing and regularly pruned blankets of cool lush vegetation.

    Problem was, the campus landscape designers thought that English ivy (Hedera helix) was appropriate for the job, overlooking the essential facts that
    a) English ivy is an aggressive alien weed plant that will murder surrounding thousands of acres of native Puget Trough rainforest vegetation and co-evolved organisms quicker than you can say Aloha Snackbar and
    b) as anyone knows who ever lived in ivy covered brick buildings in the Northeast, ivy will degrade and destroy concrete as it climbs and flourishes, just as it destroys brick pointing.

    There are solutions to the second point but they require more expensive correction/maintenance that contraverts the budgetary impetus of building brutalist concrete buildings in the first place. The college’s solution was to remove the ivy and add various trees, which in some places works well, in others less so.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  58. @Olorin

    I went to UCLA MBA school, which in 1980-82 was housed in what looked like a 5 story junior high school of the Boring Modernist genre. So they just planted eucalyptus all around it, which grow ridiculously fast in LA, and mostly covered it up. But eucalyptus start out beautiful and sculptural and get shaggy and ugly. Anyway, the B-School then gave their dumb building to the School of Social Work and built themselves a new palace in the 1990s.

  59. David says:
    @Clifford Brown

    I worked for a while at the Guggenheim next to Central Park. I could list a hundred problems with the building, condensation first among them. But the detail of design failure I find most interesting is that the interior walls that slope outwards as they rise from the floor for some reason inspire visitors to run their hands along them as if there’s a railing. Almost every night, and certainly a few times a week, those areas need to be repainted. If you’re among the last to leave as the museum is closing, you will see the painters getting ready.

  60. That photo of the concrete chairs would look beautiful even without the chairs, or with any other type of chairs.
    It’s not that brutalism suits the tropics, or vice versa – it’s that the tropics are so overwhelmingly vibrant and attractive that anything less beautiful than them cannot help but reflect their beauty.

  61. @Steve Sailer

    ADM, oh man … How many politicians has ADM been in bed with?

    All of them, plus every corn farmer in America.

  62. Jack D says:

    You may be on to something there – concrete holds up much better in environments (like Brazil) where there is not a lot of freezing and thawing.

  63. MEH 0910 says:

  64. E e says:

    That’s what’s bugged me about celebrating “openly transgender” fashion models. I remember the complaints from feminist circles decades ago that fashion models look more like teenage boys, and yet now even people who talk about “representation” for different body types seem to have been brainwashed into celebrating the inclusion of more tall skinny models… (And, really, what chance does an actual tall skinny girl have when the tall skinny transgender model will never get pregnant and lose “her” figure?)

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