Fans of the hit BBC series the Bodyguard will be engrossed by the continual twists and turns of its complex narrative. Sergeant David Budd is embroiled in a gritty drama, details of which I will not divulge to protect those that are not up to date with its latest developments. However, what can be safely highlighted is the appropriate use of the Whittingdon, also known as the Highgate New Estate, as his place of residence.
Designed in the 1970’s by the Hungarian Peter Tabori, the now highly sought after housing estate is a typical example of brutalist architecture that is prominent amongst inner city residential buildings. Although not to everyone’s tastes, Prince Charles being a notable critic, the overall popularity of these brutalist homes has steadily risen over the last few years. This can be attributed to their spacious and light design as new build homes are becoming increasingly small.
Brutalism is generally characterised by monolithic concrete constructions. It was first developed by the French-Swiss architect Le Corbusier in the 1950’s, predicated on ideals of community, space and light. His development of béton brut influenced UK architecture from the 60’s to the 80’s as an effective style to utilise in the production of replacement homes for those bombed in WWII across many major cities.
These homes were predominantly designed as social housing for those in lower income groups. But the knock on effect of this was the creation of crime hubs, with a large proportion linked to gang culture, as tensions developed within these densely populated spaces. The use of concrete and the lack of investment led to poor conditions; a factor that is changing as original tenants are being replaced by more prosperous owners and the listing of certain estates.
Architecture applicants can consider the ways in which brutalism can be incorporated into contemporary design whilst those applying for Geography can research the impact of population density on crime levels and the health of local community.
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