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Brutalist Building Design is Just Plain Bad

    While I can appreciate some people’s attraction to the minimalist lines of Spartan brutalism. Nowadays it smacks my senses with WEF Schwabian sentiments of “You’ll own nothing and like it”. Ouch! Brutal is incorrectly applied to modern architecture; it would be more aptly named Return on Investment (ROI) Design. ROI Design is where regenerative design goes to die.
    How a few unadorned shelves can “steal the show” in an architectural photo confirms the brutalist movement is still alive and kicking. Where are the Gaudi’s, Hundertwasser’s, and Moffitt’s of today? Recently I saw a home photo of a cat resting in one of these brutalist styled homes, and for me the cat steals the show by adding the only life to a generally blasé plethora of the toxic finishes and products I have come to expect from a lot of modern designers, builders and architects.
    In the photo of that famous 1940’s New England seaside residence, one definitely gets a Usonian vibe from the shopping mall of a house, with its banks of floor to ceiling windows and 8 flue, log devouring monster fireplace (which now, understandably appears to never see use for its intended purpose). And while the location is amazing the delivery has all the hallmark shortcomings of Frank Lloyd Wright and his contemporaries. They were on the right track, but fell a bit short as their sensibilities were not really set to things like VOC’s and ecological sensitivity in design, as well as having lost idea of the home as a generational estate and were experimenting with concepts like the “retreat” and the “industrial age” idea of houses for the nouveau riche and subsequently everyone else. These architects were often designing for the captains of industry at the height of the industrial revolution. Is it just me or are these new age brutalist style homes looking more and more like stand alone 7-11 franchises with their flat roofs, shopping mall style lines and a lack of connection to nature and the relationships of the people who will occupy them.
    If I am to be brutally (pun intended) honest in the reach for better design, the flaws in modern industrial home design are obvious and easily avoided. So why in last 100 years of home design, are the professionals getting it wrong? One Architect states; “How can we get billions of workers to their jobs each day without exhausting the world’s fuel supplies?” Not only that, he claims that “…a satisfied workforce means more healthy families and communities.”
    That question and subsequent statement reveal the institutional way of thinking that stratifies people, design and planet. Impersonal and uninspired. Code driven and risk obsessed. Constrained by vision blinders like product shopping as well as creatively limiting people with uninspired curriculums, associations and fear. What is really being put forward by that Architect is how do we completely industrialize home building; where we can crank out fast and cheap housing that feeds a system that appears at all levels to be anti nature and pro commerce. Can't we be pro nature and pro commerce?
    And there is nothing more anti-abundance and destructive than most of todays investors. Loaners are bad enough to the happiness of an area. But when the investors arrive it’s the road to hell being paved to your front door. It is why most modern architects are building boxes over and over that look more and more like those 7-11 franchises. Professionals like this are hamstrung by the ROI mindset, where the obvious solutions just float right past their consciousness on the way to the bank to collect their return. They just don’t seem to unplug from institutional thinking. I think history shows you cannot legislate morality or sustainability. When we try that we get silly notions like smart cities, urban densification and talking houses. It is why I felt compelled to write: Mastering Conscious Design: 33 Principles of Natural Regenerative Design. A truly deep dive based of 25 years research, field work and teaching.
    Principles are all fine and dandy, but what is the methodology? Are there best practices or just best guesses? More often than not we are subjected to the sales pitch of bad products, processes or systems. First of all, most of them are ridiculous under even marginal scrutiny. Second, the massively disconnected from nature approach all sides display. The never-ending supply of confused, silly, or downright wrongheaded “solutions” designed to maintain a dead end lifestyle is really a tragic comedy to those of us applying some thinking to these things. Then there are the trade shows driven by the industries for whom Commerce is King with bad technologies like Photovoltaics, engineered woods and Foam Insulation right at the top. I won’t advocate for these things as there is very little rational discourse on their regenerative application, it is marketing disguised as concern and it’s rather obvious. One idea being marketed to me is called climate change and while I believe the real problem is planetary devastation…" whatever" is all most people can say while they deal with their more salient issues of inflation or just putting food on the table! They are sick of hearing about it from the Jet Set, Media and Academia. Comprende! And it’s no sale here, it’s just more noise in the cacophony of agendas, like Agenda 2030; a damnable piece of writing as ever was seen.
    The solutions are actually quite simple. Slow it down and set the bar higher. Return where we can to the live/work idea that has you living very close to where you work, producing at least some of the food you consume and demanding quality out of the things we do consume. This kind of thinking takes the long view where everything you do is done with a legacy mindset for future generations. Your house is not a commodity then, it is home to passed on to your grandchildren and beyond.