Appreciated within the industry but often maligned by the general public, brutalism came to define post-war architecture in the UK, as well as many countries around the world.
One Kemble Street, a 16-story cylindrical office block originally named “Space House” and designed by George Marsh and Richard Seifert, clearly exhibits all of these characteristics, creating a landmark in the heart of
Dense Y-shaped columns—
In complete contrast to the Edwardian building it replaced, Space House maintains a unique aesthetic and flair, in spite of its use of the deeply functional design principles of
I was interested in how this building, practically symmetrical in its uniform circular form, reacted to its context and vice-versa. There is an inherent stubbornness with bold modernist buildings such as this; confident in their own agenda, they can sometimes turn their back on an area. With Space House, it feels quietly self-assured in its own self-esteem—allowing the various other buildings in the area to work alongside it.
– Ste Murray, architectural photographer
However, when isolating the building from its context, Murray’s photographs highlight the almost classical symmetry of elements, with each module’s subtle angles creating a colosseum-like appearance from afar. In the evening shots, where the angled silhouette of the facade is placed against the turning night sky, you begin to see the hidden nature of Space House, sharing the decadent complexity and ornateness of the architecture surrounding it. Jonathan Foyle, chief executive of the World Monuments Fund Britain,
It is damned by it’s name, which comes from the French ‘beton brut’, or raw concrete, but we use the same word [Brut] to describe Champagne, and this perhaps sums up the dichotomy at the heart of this style.