Brutalism in Space

There was a lot of excitement about space this week with the launch of Falcon Heavy and the Starman in the sky. But for me, it started a bit earlier with the discovery of Frédéric Chaubin’s book CCCP: Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed last weekend.

I grew up around many similar looking buildings in Moscow and now live next to some Brutalist masterpieces in Washington, D.C., but I always viewed them from an Earthly perspective. If anything, the raw, weathered concrete of these structures, their simple geometric building forms, sometimes recombined in whimsical arrangements evoked resemblance to the ruins of bygone civilizations. 

But after looking at Chaubin’s photographs, it dawned on me how Brutalism can be seen as a vision of the space and interplanetary future. After all, it came right at the heels of the Atomic Age and Space Age design. And These buildings exhibit many features of sci-fi and real space stations: massive scale, modularity in appearance, utilitarian design and use of durable materials. While Brutalist architecture often features plenty of pronounced angles, some buildings incorporate more rounded shapes, resembling flying saucers and other futuristic space structures. And some may, in fact, had a direct connection to space: I have read that Dulles Airport near Washington, D.C, was also envisioned as a future space port. 

So it may be an intesting project to try to capture the futuristic, intergalactic aspect of Brutalist architecture in Washington. Let us see where it takes me…

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