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Swissmill Tower (Zurich 2016) is the world’s tallest operating grain elevator and my fave neighbourhood brute. Yes, I’m pretty obsessed: this is pure, stark, reinforced concrete prose. Ruthlessly exposing its industrial function, this 118m tall silo is every inch a contemporary Brutalist. Replacing the original 1843 mill and standing smack-bang in the gentrified former industrial quarter, it inevitably divides opinion. The main point of contention is not the architecture as such, but the hour-long shadow it casts on a nearby river lido in the afternoon. Love it or hate it, Swissmill supplies 30% of the country’s grain requirements. The boardroom on the top floor affords unparalleled, panoramic views across the city, the lake and, on a clear day, even the alps. So far, Swissmill has resolutely resisted various attempts by local politicians and start-ups to decorate the facade. . . Swissmill Tower is part of my brand new #brutalistbeauties postcard edition uniting iconic brutes from London and Zurich -> hit link in bio to have a look. . #playhunter #sweetbrutalist #swissmill

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Fade to beige (Barbican Estate, London) . . #playhunter #sweetbrutalist #barbican #barbicancentre

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On the cutting edge of time, listening for the future: Lauderdale Tower, Barbican, London. Chamberlin, Powell and Bon, 1973. . . #playhunter #sweetbrutalist #barbican #barbicancentre

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There was no need to dress up, darling... Balfron Tower, Ernö Goldfinger, Poplar, London, 1968. . . No, this isn’t Christo’s latest art project. The sixties Brutalist is feeling the age and needs a major facelift. Still, the sight of the rain-lashed, 27-storey boldness enshrouded in crisp white scaffolding, is quite something. It is best enjoyed travelling on the Dockland Light Railway (DLR) from or to London City Airport. If you get off at Blackwall station you can also take in the remaining block of adjoining Robin Hood Gardens. That’s two key British Brutalists for the price of one. . . Originally, Balfron was built to provide affordable housing for local people who needed it. But it’s always been the tower’s sheer size and uncompromising concrete style that caught the attention and got people talking. Architect Ernö Goldfinger and his wife Ursula were among the first residents to move in. The couple lived in Flat 130 for two months from February 1968, throwing lavish parties for the working-class tenants. Widely decried as a publicity stunt in architectural circles, the Goldfinger’s Balfron time purportedly served the writer JG Ballard as the inspiration for the pompous master architect who lives in the penthouse of his doomed creation in High Rise. . . The revamped Balfron will feature a sleek, ‘best from the past for the present’ look and 146 luxury flats - but no homes for its former social tenants who have been ‘decanted’, aka re-housed over the past few years. The beacon of postwar social housing transforming into a carefully curated symbol of 21 century gentrification? Now that’s what I call brutal irony. . . #playhunter #sweetbrutalist #balfrontower #ernogoldfinger

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Brutalist sunset (Hardau, Zurich, 1978) . . #playhunter #sweetbrutalist #hardau

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This was tomorrow. Beautiful and damaged. . . #play_hunter #sweetbrutalist . . Model: #januzkuhlmann

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Triemli Tower, Zurich, view from the 13th floor. The dramatic triangular shapes remind me of an earlier use of reinforced concrete in Switzerland on a massive scale: the dragon’s teeth anti-tank defence fortifications the Swiss built during WW II to impede a possible Nazi invasion. The 16-tonne square-pyramidical shaped concrete teeth spread like mushrooms throughout the country. Due to their likeness to the Matterhorn-shaped chocolate bar, the Swiss affectionately named them ‘Toblerones’. . . #playhunter #sweetbrutalist #triemlitower

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Triemli Tower, Zurich. Esther & Rudolf Guyer, 1955-1966. Looking like a battered and bruised béton brut drop-out from a frozen JG Ballard future and standing 43 metres tall next to Triemli Hospital complex on an exposed foothill of Uetliberg mountain, this Brutalist monolith leaves no-one cold. . Unapologetically bold and brute, it cast a solitary figure in a city still clinging to cottage-sized architectural aspirations. From the outset, the tower gained its fair share of detractors. Fearing a ‘Manhattanisation’ of Zurich, Tages-Anzeiger newspaper set the tone in 1957 with the headline ‘Alarm at Triemli’. Only last week, the tower was voted ‘Ugliest Building in Switzerland’ by the readers of the country’s most popular freesheet. But ask any resident, and they will tell you how much they appreciate the far-reaching views across the city from their balconies, the well-cut, quiet flats, affordable rent, easy access to nature and excellent public transport connections to the city centre. . In essence, the whole block deliberately turns its backside on the city while giving the finger to architectural conventions. Its coarse and rugged exterior reveals nothing of its smart interior design details, such as sliding doors, and at least two balconies per flat. It is absolute in its refusal to please. Oh, the extremism of the gesture. Of all the early Zurich bruts, Triemli Tower is the one that most faithfully sticks to what the influential British design and architecture critic Reyner Banham defined as Brutalist qualities: “What characterises the New Brutalism is precisely its brutality, its je-ne-m’en-foutisme, its bloody-mindedness. Frustratingly for its detractors, Triemli Tower is here to stay - as a listed building. . >> to be continued over the next couple of posts . . #playhunter #sweetbrutalist #triemlitower

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Part of the excitement and joy of hunting for Brutalist treasures is about discovering ones that don’t announce themselves or hide in plain sight. Waiting for a friend outside Kunsthaus Zurich on an overcast early evening in spring, I noticed the fire exit by the restaurant. Its clean-cut, yet slightly grim and weather-beaten brut looks reminded me somewhat of the National Theatre in London. The stairway leads up to the exhibition hall extension, built 1954-1958 by Hans and Kurt Pfister. Now. I’ve been to Kunsthaus countless times. As long as I can remember, I’ve admired the timeless elegance and modernity of the extension. But it took me until April 2018 to actually look at it. Imagine my (positive) shock-reaction upon noticing the cladding panels are textured in corrugated concrete. This part of Kunsthaus clearly speaks of the international style and technical innovations of its era. At the same time, it can be read as a Brutalist avant-la-lettre. At least in my book. . #playhunter #sweetbrutalist @kunsthaus_zurich

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Dr Pure and Mr Bling: a sleek, if unassuming minimalist by day, this facade comes alive at night, when the integrated light and colour effects switch on and the 2000 travertine stone strips start to swivel. Picture a  postmaterialist, purist take on Vegas. Quite the Swiss bank clerk by day who swings into full drag at night, or so. Scroll down to find out where to hook up. . . . . . . . CAS Casino Lugano, 1999-2001 by Luca Gazzaniga Architetti. #playhunter #sweetbrutalist

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The sky is the beginning . . #playhunter #sweetbrutalist

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Bruteaucracy now. . #playhunter #sweetbrutalist

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Elegant in both gloom and sunshine: close-up of Hardau residential estate in Zurich, caught on a sweltering morning in June. The sun-kissed concrete composition exudes the kind of serenity and lightness more commonly found among its mediterranean counterparts. The trick? Washing the raw concrete slabs in powdery reddish-browns and burgundy tones. Completed in 1978, the well-preserved cross-wall construction proves brutalism can weather time, trends and trolling in great style. More hard evidence soon. #playhunter #sweetbrutalist

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Brick and granite structures at #vitracampus. Built by Portuguese architect #alvarosiza, they form part of a pathway connecting Zaha Hadid's iconic fire station (1993) with @vitradesignmuseum by Frank Gehry (1989) and #VitraHaus by Herzog de Meuron. The promenade is open to the public, inviting visitors to explore the blending of beautifully landscaped nature, world class architecture and design as well as production spaces. . #playhunter #sweetbrutalist

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The tall, terracotta-hued wall evokes the imposing kasbah architecture of northern Africa, while the clean lines and geometric forms nod to #ricardobofill. Sweeping views of the Mediterranean and deep, azure skies and intense sun await. Erm, no, actually. Not for this banking building in Lugano Centro. The mind is a brilliant architect. . #playhunter #sweetbrutalist

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Mood: it's #threelionsonashirt all the way. Tears or triumph: tears and hurt are routine; but a smart English side actually winning penalties and fully deserving their place in the sun still feels mildy shocking. I'm looking forward to a night of pure #sweetbrutalist joy. Is it coming home: can't you hear the roar of the English soul. . . #playhunter

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If architecture can be gendered, this chap is certainly pride of not giving a toss. Clad in terracotta-hued concrete, the not exactly filigrane structure rests on stiletto-style columns in blush. The mural appears to depict a rather raunchy ménage-à-troi between Mondrian, Picasso and a class of ambitious teenage art students. It all looks like an architecture-forward communal centre, licée or church from the early eighties. But we're actually in the backyard of a bank in Lugano. Oh. I like the sight of a slightly camp corporate cross-dresser. I love your bold, Botta-on-a-budget attitude. You look great. And very, very summer 2018. . #playhunter #sweetbrutalist

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Repost from @play_hunter - Is it a WW2 bunker, is it a sci-fi castle? No, it's Trellick's service tower > follow the trilogy in the feed. . It may look like your archetypal modernist brute, but architect Ernö Goldfinger had some very clever ideas for the slim, freestanding unit in signature bush-hammered concrete and arrow slit windows. He moved all the noisy equipment like lifts, heating and pumps into the separate unit, placing the boiler-room and water tanks on the top. This would allow the residents to enjoy their spacious flats and breathtaking views over London even more. . . But like many, originally altruist-minded, high-rise housing developments in the 60s and 70s, Trellick clashed badly with the harsh realities of low funding and lack of security. The effects on residents where overwhelmingly destructive and alienating. Before soon, the playground had to be roofed because of the dead cats, tellies, nappies, drugs on string etc etc pelting down. . . "An architecture built for war”, sci-fi novelist J.G. Ballard wryly commented at the time. In 1975, three years after Trellick's completion, he published the novel "High-Rise". It is a bleak apocalyptic tale about the social and physical disintegration of a community of 2000 people living in a 40-floor apartment tower in London. . Much of it appears to have been based directly on Trellick: the extended height, the starkly modernist facade and balconies, the pronounced stairs and elevators. Right down to the riots, swift slumification and scenes of complete anarchy and carnage - in the novel, the tenants end up eating each other (and their dogs). If you haven't, watch the sleek 2015 movie version starring Tom Hiddleston. And wonder for a moment how much material Trellick’s current transformation from beast to beauty amid the backdrop of rampantly gentrifying London, luxury ghost towers and the charred carcass of nearby Grenfell has there for a modern day sequel. #sweetbrutalist #playhunter . . #trellicktower #trellick #ernogoldfinger #brutalist #londonarchitecture

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General Trade School, Masons Hall, Basel, 1961. Built by Hermann Baur, the hall counts among the city's most spectacular exponents of late 50s architecture. Both the exterior and inside walls are in raw concrete. . #playhunter #sweetbrutalist

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Autosilo car park, Lugano . . #playhunter #sweetbrutalist

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@yaelanders in Translucent Chromointerferent Environment, 1974 – 2009 by Carlos Cruz-Diez, Art Unlimited, Art Basel. . #playhunter #sweetbrutalist

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The aim of design is to create space . . shot at @designmiami #playhunter #sweetbrutalist

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Take a look at this butt. How can you not love this tight-arsed beast? The shiny-slippery buttock muchness can swim. It can rave in a cemetry and swim with dolphins while giving birth to unicorns. It can fly in the face of the sublime and outright tackiness at the same time. I'm sure it lets out organic strawberry ice cream farts, too. Does it make a mockery of the contemporary art fun house? Maybe. Maybe not. Move your mind and your ass will follow. Welcome to #artbasel2018. . I'm thrilled to be your Preview Days access-all-areas, ahem, fly-on-the-butt. Follow my Instagram Stories for rolling coverage on #artbasel #designmiami #listebasel #artunlimited. Installation by #androwekua #kunsthallezurich . #playhunter #sweetbrutalist

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Meet Arto, standing tall for over 70 years - and growing. Named after his previous owner, I acquired Arto at Zurich Succulent Plant Collection's annual sale last year. Just picture it. Somewhere in Switzerland, around the end of WW II. The world around is in tatters. But a cacti lover defied that world and gave little Arto a chance. He's been enjoying his place in the bright sun ever since. Here's to you, my pretty, wise and undestructible septeguenarian one #sweetbrutalist #playhunter

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Brutalism starts at home: Triemli hospital, main building, Zurich. Opened 1970. #sweetbrutalist #playhunter #playlust

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