We are reassuringly told that the future of archeology lies in 3D scanning and printing technologies, but what would happen if we were to use these technologies to examine the ruins of our recent history, could we, for example, reconstruct Brutalist Architecture?
Conc(re)te is an open-access digital resource for architects, designers, concrete enthusiasts and brutalist utopians.
Launching at RE-FORM Design Biennale → in Denmark, this new archive is constructed from 3D scans of concrete debris saved from the Birmingham Central Library (1). These digital fragments are available as mutant copies to download, re-use and re-purpose→, creating the opportunity to rethink our relationship to the materials of our constructed world(s) and the narratives imbedded within them.
1. The Birmingham Central Library opened to the public in 1974 and was designed by the architect John Madin. Madin’s library was part of an historic period when Birmingham was undergoing a previous age of renewal. It embraced an urban ideology of a brave new world, one dominated by the car. At the time it resonated with the city’s legacy of progress, innovation and construction - Birmingham’s motto is Forward. The Central Library was considered an impressive example of Brutalist architecture and was a centre point for this age of renewal, forming part of a post-war utopian redesign of the civic centre that was to remain only semi completed due to imposed budget cuts. English Heritage applied for listed status to be granted to the Central Library in 2002 and 2007, on both occasions these applications were rejected by the Minister for Culture following lobbying from Birmingham City Council. This rejection was unprecedented. In 2011 the council successfully applied for a Certificate of Immunity from Listing which prevented any new applications to have the building granted listed status for the succeeding five years. In 2016 and just weeks before that certificate was due to expire, demolition began on Madin's brutalist ziggurat and its surrounding structures. The library was just 42 years old. It was not an old building; it was not in a state of disrepair and yet it was still demolished.