Brutalist Interior Urbanism: Visions, Paradigms, Design Strategies

Patrizio M. Martinelli*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This idea of the building as a microcosm which replicates topological connections is the essence of an urban experience. This concept is recognizable in many Brutalist buildings and projects. It is particularly evident in a series of projects that take to the extreme these qualities, when building and city are blurred into one another through a dramatic change of scale. Again, the Smithsons are a point of reference: their project for the competition for Haupstadt Berlin (1957–1958) employs a multilevel platform made of nets of pedestrian paths and connections (as in the Sheffield project, not designed by the “rule and compass” geometry) overlapped onto the existing street grid. The sketches of the places where the new and the old cities connect emphasize the complexity of these urban interiors—as multistory, open-air courtyards overlooking the flow of cars below. These ideas were realized in London throughout the 1960s in projects that attempted to build the Brutalist city, such as the South Bank area or the Barbican Center. Both projects are fragment examples of a sublime “multi-layered metropolis, with its labyrinthine spaces, underworld and dark surfaces.” Surveying various works, this chapter examines interior urbanism through a Brutalist lens.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Interior Urbanism Theory Reader
EditorsGregory Marinic
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9780429443091
ISBN (Print)9781138336315, 9781138336308
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2024

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