#Book Review #ARC – Concrete Concept, C. Beanland

The moment I saw Concrete Concept I knew I had to read it. When it comes to architecture, I’m a classical lover through and through, but Brutalism is my happy exception. Why? No clue. I just know there’s something visceral about slabs of raw concrete stacked up, a statement I’m still trying to figure out. The closest comparison I could make is, it’s a big middle finger thrown out for no reason at all. 


No modern architectural movement has aroused so much awe and so much ire as Brutalism. This is architecture at its most assertive: compelling, distinctive, sometimes terrifying. But, as Concrete Concept shows, Brutalism can be about love as well as hate. 

This inspiring and informative photographic survey profiles 50 brutalist buildings from around the world. Travelling the globe – from Le Corbusier’s Unite d’Habitation (Marseille, France), to the Former Whitney Museum (New York City, USA) to Preston Bus Station (Preston, UK) – this book covers concrete architecture in its most extraordinary forms, demonstrating how Brutalism has changed our landscapes and infected popular culture.

Now in a stylish mini format, this is the perfect tour of Brutalism’s biggest hits. 

192 pages
Architecture, photography
Quarto Publishing Group – White Lion


Cover: Well. It’s a book about brutalism. Concrete on the cover shouldn’t be a surprise.


  • Brutalism. You either love it or hate it, right? Not really, no. You can love it and get horrified on occasion – the two things can and will go hand in hand. It’s like the slow-mo train wreck of architecture. Take the St. Mary cathedral in Kyoto, for example: a brutalist church should be a de facto criminal offence with a Ludovico rehab program, featuring Corinthian columns and decorated pediments  24/7. Still, in its concrete horror, it’s a fascinating church. Tons of raw beton brut around the altar? Wow. I love it.
  • I also love the writing style. It’s hilarious as Beanland doesn’t mince words and goes all in. You like it? Good. You don’t? Tough.
  • You know how I’m always complaining about books featuring too many black/white pictures, right? Well, Concrete Concept is maybe the only photography book that can pull that out. It’s a good choice, as it captures the soul of those buildings. The colored ones are fascinating too.
  • I winced and/or went through variations of ‘oh, dear Lord, why’ throughout the entire book. Is this a good thing? Of course. I loved every moment I spent shaking my head at the pictures, because they provoked a reaction. That’s the whole point of… ah, anything under the sun, I guess. 
  • Great editing. I can’t tell you how happy this makes me, because itsmagic.gif
  • Every building is worth mentioning. Compiling the next section took me the biggest chunk of time here, because they all are so good and so awful they deserve some recognition.  

Special mention:

  • 53 Thomas Street, NY. No windows. A building with no windows.
  • Habitat 67, Canada. Why? But in a cute way.
  • MASP, Brazil. It reminds me of a spider with red legs.
  • CCSS, Costa Rica. This is so confusing, it’s adorable.
  • Torres Bianca, Madrid. It’s round. I mean.
  • Preston Bus Station, England. The curved edges are a thing of beauty. 
  • Balfron & Trellick Towers, England. I’m obsessed with the stairs joining the towers with the main buildings. Obsessed.
  • Orange County Government Center, USA. I’m not sure what I’m looking at here, but, hey.
  • Park Hill, England. The first picture is so powerful. It’s like a reverse mullet, party in the front, business in the back. 


  • Nothing. I wish I could take Concrete Concept out on a date.


5 stars on GR, but it’d deserve more.

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