What’s the beef with Brutalism?

OHM Michael Edwards Russell Place MelbourneFor the month of May, Open House Melbourne is paying homage to one of the most challenging architectural styles that exists today: brutalism – with a series of screenings, talks and tours to consider people’s beef with a Béton brut – whilst exploring the social significance of the style, and to consider, what is the new, new brutalism?

“We have launched What’s the beef with Brutalism? in partnership with Heritage Council of Victoria and Assemble Papers in response to the challenges that significant post-war buildings are facing with the demands of a rapidly developing city,” says Emma Telfer, Creative Director Open House Melbourne.

Open House Melbourne encourages the city’s residents to stop and think about what type of city they want in the future: do they want to live in a place that celebrates diversity, heritage, good design and smart development? If so, then Melbourne’s wonderful brutalist buildings need to be celebrated and protected.

“This program will help people appreciate the best of Brutalism, which, along with other modern styles, has added many significant buildings to Melbourne and is important in the evolution of our built heritage,” said Professor Stuart Macintryre AO, Chair Heritage Council of Victoria.

Highlights of the What’s the beef with Brutalism? program include:

Bunkers, Brutalism and Bloodymindedness
ACMI – Thursday 12 May 2016: 6.30pm
A BBC FOUR two-part documentary in which Jonathan Meades makes the case for 20th century concrete Brutalist architecture in homage to a style that he sees as brave, bold and bloody-minded. The screening will start with a conversation between special quests who will discuss Melbourne’s brutalist architecture.

Brutalist Block Party
122 Roseneath Street, Clifton Hill
A May-long program of talks, workshops, lunches, dinners, social situations and a weekly produce market, presented by Assemble Papers and Open House Melbourne in a vast concrete-fronted warehouse in Clifton Hill – the site of a future development by Wulff Projects, Icon Co and Assemble. Full program: www.brutalistblockparty.com.au

Utopia/Dystopia: Brutalism in film
122 Roseneath Street, Clifton Hill – Wednesday 18 May 2016: 6.30pm
Jonathan Meades states that Brutalism is the decor of dystopian films, literature and comics, just as gothic is for horror. Books and films have of course impinged on the way brutalist buildings have been judged down the years, assisting in their condemnation. Does Utopia even make a guest appearance?

New, New Brutalism: architecture for the people
122 Roseneath Street, Clifton Hill – Wednesday 25 May 6.30pm
Emerging in the 1950s, New Brutalism offered affordable modern housing, improved community amenities, and an honesty of material after a period of architectural frivolity. We take a look at contemporary Melbourne projects that could be classified as the New, New Brutalism: projects that progress positive social agendas.

What’s the Beef with Brutalism? will continue throughout the Open House Melbourne Weekend, with Brutalist buildings open and a Brutalist Love Fest film night on 27 July with the Robin Boyd Foundation’s DADo film society.

The annual Open House Melbourne Weekend takes place on Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 July 2016 – with close to 150 buildings across wider metropolitan Melbourne set to open their doors. For more information, visit: www.openhousemelbourne.org for details.

Image: Russell Place, Melbourne – photo by Michael Edwards