A form of expression which emerged in the 1950s and was further infused with the 20th-century modernist movement, Brutalist architecture is distinguished by rigid large-scale geometry which is constructed throughout with concrete building a sense of monolithism and massiveness. Brutalist buildings were constructed for certain functional typologies which were- official buildings, government projects, high rise buildings, and so on but with time was heavily criticized for its petrifying appearance which was considered inhuman and ultimately led to the decline of the unique expression. Germany was among the earliest countries which flourished extensively with this style of architecture among which fewer are mentioned below.

1. Church of the Pilgrimage, Velbert

Built by Gottfried Bohm and also known as Neviges Mariendom, this church is a showcase of sharp angles and rough concrete exterior. This structure is considered to symbolize the pilgrim’s wanderings and is based on the concept of anthropomorphism i.e., defining human characteristics. The church accommodates the pilgrim’s stay, a space for worship, exhibition spaces, and smaller everyday chore spaces.

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Church of Pilgrimage ©www.dezeen.com
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Church of Pilgrimage ©www.dezeen.com

2. Hat Factory, Luckenwalde

Famous for its mass manufacturing of hats, two companies residing there merged, and hence a structure shaped in the form of a hat was constructed. The shape is functionally for the toxic fumes given out in the process to escape the space. The two symmetric axes are a division between dyeing and power station spaces required for production and are constructed of materials including concrete, glass, steel, and wood which was considered as modern materials when it was built.

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Hat Factory ©www.photobookcorner.com
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Hat Factory ©www.photobookcorner.com

3. St. Agnes Church, Berlin

Initially destroyed amidst the ongoing world war, the church was again built by architect Werner Duttman with an aim for the building to stand apart but in the way of others. The structure consists of a twenty-meter-tall tower showcasing the patent rough concrete texture. The structure is now recouped as a cultural exhibition space for the people around.

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St. Agnes Church ©www.ignant.com
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St. Agnes Church ©www.ignant.com

4. The Corbusier Haus, Berlin

The brutalist movement is said to have been initiated by the late master Le Corbusier himself with his United d’ Habitation housing Project in Marseille, an imitation of which was constructed again in Berlin by him due to the need of social housing post-world war. The building accommodates 530 apartments constructed of prefabricated concrete panels and poured concrete slabs which were the need of the hour because of its ease of assembling. 

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The Corbusier Haus ©www.ignant.com
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The Corbusier Haus ©www.ignant.com

5. Embassy of Czechoslovakia, Berlin

The embassy was constructed in 1978 by two remarkable architects named Vera Machoninova and Vladimir Machonin and still looks untouched and unalterable. The building features sharp edges and is lifted upwards from the ground which back then was termed as a construction defying gravity. The structure is a great example of brutalism through its dynamic geometry and varied volume.

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Embassy of Czechoslovakia ©www.ignant.com
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Embassy of Czechoslovakia ©www.ignant.com

6. Institute of Hygiene and Environmental Medicine, Berlin

Standing out as an exemplary structure for post-war modernism in Germany, the building symbolizes a steamboat sailing in the Mississippi River. The building’s features are organically approached and highlight its sculptural curves, rectilinear planes, and triangular prism all made out of concrete paying influence to the expressionist architecture at another level.

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Institute of hygiene and environmental medicine ©www.ignant.com
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Institute of hygiene and environmental medicine ©www.ignant.com

7. Mouse Bunker, Berlin

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Mouse Bunker ©www.ignant.com
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Mouse Bunker ©www.ignant.com

The structure serves as a research institute for experimentation in the field of medicine and is named as a Mouse Bunker due to a series of experiments that inculcated more than 80,000 mice. Built-in 1971, the building caters to a spaceship visually with its massive concrete built shape, the triangular windows to receive a controlled amount of natural light, and the contrasting blue pipeline facing outwards like a cannon jutting out from a spaceship. 

8. Klinikum Am Urban, Berlin

This construction is a hospital built in 1887 positioned at a unique site as it faces an open canal. The hospital suffered vigorously during the world war but was established as the first municipal hospital post-war in the city. The v-shaped building is a nine-storeyed building comprising 750 beds which is still going strong.

Germany had suffered a great deal during the second world war and the pre-existence of such expressionist architecture named as Brutalism shaped the formation of the country again post-war.  

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Klinikum Am Urban ©www.ignant.com
Author

Shivangi is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s in Architecture degree. She desires to explore in the field of research and literature while leaving a mark on the world with her influence, design and experience. She believes that architecture is a proportionate part of her life inculcating other interests like playing sports, reading novels and travelling.

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