Ottawa (de)Tours: Brutalism

Walking seminar developed for Ottawa (de)Tours. Summer 2015, 2016.

ottawaIt has been said that brutalist architecture is “unloved but not unlovely”. Beyond the monolithic, opaque, concrete façades are buildings filled with drama, mystery, and strong civic focus. In the post­war building boom and leading up to the Centennial, grand and heroic ideals of civic welfare and cultural identity were translated into a new vision for Ottawa. The abstract, technically efficient, and impersonal nature of modernism was too closely tied to war. The strong character of brutalist architecture embodied renewed hope, stability, and humanity. Ironically, today we tend to misread these buildings as imposing and inhuman “eyesores”. Understanding the values and ideals behind these plans and buildings helps us to question what went wrong when they became built realities instead of utopian ideals. Continue reading “Ottawa (de)Tours: Brutalism”

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Jane’s Walk: Brutal Ottawa

Architecture’s concrete utopias

Walking tour given as part of Jane’s Walk Ottawa-Gatineau, May 8 2016
(abridged version of Ottawa (de)tours Brutalism walk)

cormier-9373It has been said that brutalist architecture is “unloved but not unlovely.”  Beyond the monolithic, opaque, concrete façades are buildings filled with drama, mystery, and strong civic focus. In the post­war building boom and leading up to the Centennial, grand and heroic ideals of civic welfare and cultural identity were translated into a new vision for Ottawa. The strong character of brutalist architecture embodied renewed hope, stability, and humanity. Ironically, today we tend to misread these buildings as imposing and inhuman “eyesores.”   Continue reading “Jane’s Walk: Brutal Ottawa”