The Best Brutalist Architecture In London

Love ’em or hate ’em, these arresting structures don’t go unnoticed!

NB: This is a rolling article so be sure to check back for updates!

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Prince Charles famously considers brutalist architecture a blight on the London skyline, and it’s easy to understand why. The raw, unashamed honesty of exposed concrete and harsh lines is decidedly “un-British”.

But the style’s historical significance – brutalist structures, it has been argued, are a reflection of post-war optimism – means many of the buildings are here to stay.

And thankfully so. Like almost any trend, love for brutalism has come back ’round and many a local will passionately defend the style. These three are just some of our favourites.

1. The National Theatre

London’s South Bank is home to the most famous of brutalist architecture in the city. But it’s the National Theatre that will draw you in first.

Designed by Denys Lasdun, the theatre opened in 1976 and now boasts over 20 productions each year.

Organisers also run architecture tours of the theatre, giving design lovers a thorough insight into the history and significance of Britain’s most divisive building.

Meanwhile, the nearby Southbank Centre – a multi-venue cultural hub – comprises of two additional brutalist beauties: the Hayward Gallery and Queen Elizabeth Hall, both of which deserve a spot in your camera roll.

National Theatre London

2. Alexandra Road Estate

Informally known as Rowley Way, this housing estate is the definition of a ‘concrete jungle’.

Designed by Neave Brown in 1960, the estate is comprised of 520 residences, a community centre and even a school.

The sheer size of the concrete monstrosity makes the walk down its main ‘street’ feel endless. And you may get the sense that the anonymity afforded by its vastness invites the underbelly of society to fester within, if not for its current residents reclaiming the space.

Sure, it seems like brutalist architecture in every sense of the word (while the name is derived from béton brut, which means raw concrete in French, it has obvious English connotations), but you’ll notice greenery in unlikely places, pops of colour against the grey and an incredibly friendly community vibe.


3. The Park Tower

Unveiled in 1973 by architect Richard Seifert, this unlikely addition to Knightsbridge doesn’t quite scream luxury, but that is indeed what you’ll find inside.

The 14-storey structure is a five-star hotel whose interiors certainly live up to the expectations of the high-end area.

A fish-out-of-water, the Park Tower is said to be far more tame than the original design. According to this blogger, the first sketches were turned down as they didn’t blend well with its surrounds. Imagine what could’ve been!

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7 thoughts on “The Best Brutalist Architecture In London

  1. I love spotting urban curiosities and you’ve inspired me to hunt out some Brutalist architecture where I live in Brighton now 🙂 Lovely picture of the National Theatre in golden hour, too.

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