Brutalist architecture is characterized by concrete and a lack of detail. Regardless of your view on its aesthetics, it is certainly easy to identify.

Brutalism was a style of modern architecture popular from the 1950s to the 1970s. With concrete as the primary building material, the resulting structures were linear, boxy, and fortress-like. The style focuses on structure and uses few, if any, decorations.  Initially developed to create functional institutional structures at a low cost, designers soon adopted the look for other uses, such as government and university buildings. The style was intended to be integrating and protective but critics  found it unappealing due to its unfriendly and uncommunicative appearance.  Many of Edmonton’s public buildings were built in this style due to the city’s rapid growth following the Second World War.


  • Heavy use of concrete, often rough and exposed
  • Rough, blocky appearance
  • Striking repetitive angular geometries
  • Rectangular windows on rectangular exterior walls
  • Exposure of the building's internal functions, such as chimneys and pipes 


Character Defining Elements

Cantilever projections, Columns, Curtain wall, Flat roof, Irregular footprint, Metal structure, Mural, Portico, Poured concrete structure, Rectangular footprint, Rough concrete exterior, Square footprint, Sun screens, Textured concrete, Three storeys or more, Two storeys


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