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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Today's archidose #891

Normally I wouldn't post a demolition photo for a "today's archidose," but given my recent review of two books on Brutalist architecture – Concrete Concept and Heroic – it seemed appropriate to feature this photo of architect John Madin's Birmingham Central Library (1974) coming down. In my review I considered that the popularity of Brutalism today – evidenced by the two books but also through toys and websites – would result in the preservation of more concrete edifices from the 1950s to 1970s. But Birmingham Central Library, whose fate was sealed with the opening of the Mecanoo-designed replacement library in 2013, is obviously an exception – and an unfortunate one. According to the BBC, "Once fully demolished, [the library] will be replaced with office space as part of the £500m Paradise regeneration scheme."

Failed Architecture has a post on "Birmingham's Central Library and the Battle over Brutalism" worth reading, and at bottom are some apt words by UK-based photographer Gethin Thomas, who took the March 14 photo of the building's demolition (more can be found on his Flickr page, though I feel like posting only one here).

Birmingham Central Library, 1974-2013

Words by Gethin Thomas:
March 2016 Demolition.

This building was opened in 1974 and was the third library in the vicinity. It was designed by John Madin, a Birmingham architect and its inverted ziggurat form is a powerful example of the Brutalist style.

Looked at closely this building which was never cared for has many beautiful details which tell us that the architect was more than just an architect. John Madin was also an artist ahead of his time.

It would have made a superb "Tate Birmingham" but is now sadly beyond saving.

I just hope that whatever replaces it is worthy of the setting and is as original and "of it's time".

Future generations may ask where all the examples of late sixties early seventies "brutalism" went.

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