Brutalist buildings are a crucial part of our country’s architectural heritage, says Catherine Croft – the government must recognise their significance and protect them
Great to start 2021 with Simon Phipps’ fantastic images of brutalist buildings, many of which the C20 Society is campaigning for (Destruction of brutalist architecture in north of England prompts outcry, 3 January). Scandalously few of them are listed. If the government were to recognise their significance in this way, imaginative new uses would be much more likely to be forthcoming, and their owners would be more disposed to view them in the optimistic light of these photographs. In many cases, all the necessary research has been completed.
For instance, Dunelm House (Durham University’s student union building, by the Architects’ Co-Partnership, 1964-66) seen through the frame of the dramatic Kingsgate Bridge in the larger selection of Phipps’ photographs on your website, has been in limbo since January 2017. Both Historic England and the C20 Society have no doubt that it should be listed; it just awaits a final decision from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). We agree that brutalist buildings are “a crucial part of the country’s architectural history”. Phipps’ book is an excellent wake-up call: let’s hope the DCMS is listening.
Director, C20 Society