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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh College of Art : History of Art

Undergraduate Course: Brutalisms (HIAR10191)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course is a survey of Brutalism as a concept in architecture, art, and popular culture from c. 1955 to the present day. It is global, and interdisciplinary, and has a particular focus on the contemporary reassessment of Brutalism in art and film. The title 'Brutalisms' recognises different, and sometimes competing versions of the tendency.
Course description This course is a survey of Brutalism as a concept in architecture, art and theory from c. 1955 to the present day. Organised in three broad themes, It starts with the work of the Independent Group in London in the 1950s, including the groundbreaking exhibition Parallel of Life and Art, and the contemporary architecture of Peter and Alison Smithson. Reyner Banham's 1955 essay 'The New Brutalism' is central to this part of the course, as are certain post-war buildings by Le Corbusier. The second part of the course explores the version of Brutalism that flourished in Brazil, particularly in São Paulo in the 1960s. The key figures are Vilanova Artigas, and Lina Bo Bardi, both of whom built monumental public buildings in the city. Left-aligned, and populist, this version of Brutalism had a marked reappraisal in the mid 2000s, along interest in other global variants of the tendency in India (for eg. Chandigarh) and the United States. The final part of the course explores the long afterlife of Brutalism, its reimagining as style, and its cultural representations in art, the novel and film J. G. Ballard's book High Rise and its cinematic adaptation are key here, as is the exhibition as art of fragments of the Smithsons' demolished Robin Hood Gardens. Brutalism continues to be an object of fascination in architecture, art, and popular culture. It is also an object of continuing controversy as key Brutalist buildings come to the end of their design lives, and as (more recently) concrete has come under scrutiny for its environmental impact. This timely course explores the fascination with Brutalism, and its complex politics, in a period when many of its expressions are under threat. Students taking the course gain not only an understanding of a key moment in postwar architectural history, but also a framework to understand the cultural politics of some of the most contested parts of the contemporary built environment.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: History of Art 2A Reason, Romance, Revolution: Art from 1700 to 1900 (HIAR08027) AND History of Art 2B From Modernism and the Avant-Gardes to Postmodernism and Globalisation (HIAR08028)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students who have passed at least 60 credits of Architectural History at Level 8 can also take these courses. If the pre-requisites cannot be met, entry to this course can be negotiated in consultation with either the Course Organiser or Programme Director (History of Art).
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  20
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Formative Assessment Hours 1, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Revision Session Hours 1, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 172 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) You will be assessed for this course in two ways:«br /»
(1) ESSAY (worth 50% of your overall mark)«br /»
One 2,500-word essay, the title to be chosen from a list supplied; due around weeks 7-8 (leaving time for feedback and marking to be available to students.«br /»
«br /»
(2) EXAM (worth 50% of your overall mark)«br /»
One 3-hour online exam in December diet.«br /»
All Learning Outcomes are assessed against, and are equally weighted within, both course assessment tasks.«br /»
Feedback Students are given feedback on FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT as follows:
You will be asked to prepare a presentation to deliver to the class and to submit a short (c.300 word) summary of your presentation with references. You will receive verbal feedback at a one-to-one meeting afterwards. The presentation will demonstrate knowledge and understanding that will contribute to your performance in your summative assessment.

Seminar presentation or equivalent, and essay plan submitted in week 5

SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENT: There will be an essay and an exam, equally weighted. Written feedback on student essays will be provided, in addition to the opportunity for a one-to-one meeting towards the end of semester.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)3 hour online examination paper3:15
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a solid foundation knowledge of the diverse visual and material cultures comprising Brutalism
  2. Put skills of visual analysis into practice, showing the ability to make visual comparisons between different Brutalist artefacts, and between Brutalist and other contemporaneous artefacts
  3. Offer sophisticated Interpretations of Brutalist artefacts using visual, material, and textual evidence
  4. Show critical awareness of the way Brutalism has been understood over time in different critical and professional contexts
  5. Confidently identify, conceptualise and express novel problems raised by the material
Reading List
R. Banham, 'The New Brutalism', Architectural Review (December 1955)
M. Crinson and C. Zimmerman (eds.) Neo-Avant Garde and Postmodern (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2010)
A. Forty, Concrete and Culture: A Material History (London: Reaktion Books, 2012
A. Kitnick and H. Foster (eds.), 'The New Brutalism', special issue of October, 136 (Spring 2011)
A. Massey, The Independent Group (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1995)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Visual and critical analysis; Clear thinking and the development of an argument; Independent research; Presentation and communication skills; Organisation and planning.
KeywordsBrutalism,Architecture,Urbanism,Modernism,Concrete,Brazil,London,Le Corbusier,Reyner Banham
Course organiserDr Cole Collins
Course secretaryMr Nathan Ross-Hammond
Tel: (0131 6)51 5880
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