Sunday, December 11, 2011

Brutalist by name, brutal by nature

Intelligent comment from the Adam Smith Institute on why the British Housing Estates need to be knocked down as soon as possible:
Opposition to post-war architecture tends to focus on aesthetic concerns. And, certainly, much of it is appalling ugly, almost to the point that merely looking at it fills you with despair. But its mostly deeply pernicious effect is surely the way in which it has affected people’s behaviour, by forcing them to live in an environment which is cold, desolate and practically inhuman. Naturally, I am not suggesting that post-war architecture caused the riots. But the idea that it was a contributory factor certainly has the ring of truth about it.

He mentions similar constructions in Italy.
Incidentally, the picture I’ve used here is not actually from a post-war London housing estate. It is a photo of the Vele di Scampia estate near Naples, which was the setting for the stunning, shocking film Gomorrah. If you’re sceptical about the social consequences of bad architecture, I’d challenge you to watch that film and, bearing in mind that it is based on real events, ask yourself whether many of the things depicted would be possible in a traditional street layout. For me, it’s a shining example of brutalist by name, brutal by nature.

I went down south with a bunch of friends last year to visit Monte Cassino and on the drive we had to go through some little towns that looked as if they had been built after the Second World War when some Italian government official decided to make the entire country into a suitable movie location for nihilist post-apocalyptic filmmaker. As a bonus, the population seemed to be practising to gain employment as zombie extras the same films.

I've never in my life seen any human dwelling more closely resembling a gargantuan garbage heap.

Scruton has quite a bit to say on the subj. Starting about 7:14