Background in Music
- First pieces of design he looked at were his dad’s album covers
- As a graphic designer in the late 90s you either did brochures or you did record sleeves
- Art on record sleeves was his escape from Middlesbrough
Ridley Scott was born in the same area, and used the industrial landscape in Middlesborough as inspiration for Blade Runner.
If Ridley Scott can escape the English countryside and make a living making movies (as opposed to working for British Steel) so can I.
1988 Move to London
- Was exposed to brutalist architecture in South London
- Started taking photos of the Barbican Centre, came back again and again. Started taking photos of other brutalist buildings, like Balfron Tower
- Got offered a job to design a record cover for an 80s-inspired album, couldn’t relate to the artist (80s airbrush posters neon VS miners strike ). Felt he had lost relevance in the music industry.
- What next after record sleeves?
- Took more photos of Architecture
- Brutalist architecture is about straight lines, grids, big overlap with graphic design
This Brutal House @brutalhouse
- Started a twitter account and a website to share the hundreds of photos he had taken
- No background in architecture, not enough knowledge about social housing, political and economic background
- All he had was his emotional response to brutalist buildings (“Look like they dropeed straight from space”)
- No experience with twitter
- Started posting not just architecture, but also graphic design, music, random stuff he likes makes the difference
- Goal: Reach a new audience in architecture, build a new portfolio to attract clients outside the music industry
- Got featured in online publications, started gaining around 1000 new followers a month
What is Brutalism?
- The New Brutalism by Reyner Banham, first published in 1955
- Heavily influenced by Le Corbusier
- Beton Brut (Exposed, unfinished concrete)
- Built after the second world war to replace the old victorian slums.
- Due to poor aftercare (Le Corbussier worked in southern France, architecture was never meant to work in damp English weather), they quickly turned into new slums while rich people moved into the old victorian slums
- Park Hill Estate in Sheffield (“Streets in the sky”)
- Brought to the UK by architects who had to flee from Germany and eastern Europe
Thamesmead, A Clockwork Orange
- Started creating fictional graphics for Thamesmead Estate in South London
- Orange because A Clockwork Orange
- Itsnicethat article on the Project
- The Guardian on “Clockwork Orange Country”
You mentioned Sunday night was the best time to tweet, you get different amounts of engagement for different kinds of content etc. How technical do you get about these statistics, do you use analytics software or is it all gut instinct?
I don’t do the analytics myself. I have two very talented people who do that for me, and also take care of the website. They get back to me with bits of information on engagement and things. This allows me to just focus on the content.
Do you think brutalist social housing projects were built with good intentions, and seeing the state a lot of them are in today, did they fail?
I do think hey were built with the best intentions. What failed was the upkeep and maintainance of the buildings. There was often no further investment after the inital construction, and that’s what led to the decay of a lot of these bulidings. Only today are we starting to preserve them pieces of architectural history, which is good but should have begun earlier.
Are there fundamental design problems in brutalist architecture?
buildings were built up without care, quickly as possible