Exhibition to celebrate Southampton’s “disastrous” architecture

We can barely contain our excitement.


If by some chance you are a massive fan of architectural mistakes then it is your lucky day, because from this Sunday until the 7th of April at the K6 Gallery, Southampton will play host to a celebration of these 50 foot eyesores.

That’s right, ‘Brutalust: Celebrating Southampton’s Post-War Architecture’ will be paying tribute to these grey, sky-touching beasts.

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The buildings were constructed after German air raids destroyed much of the city centre, and other parts were renovated during a slum clearance programme. But some people have accused the blocks’ designers as “causing more damage than the Luftwaffe”, and who can blame them? In 2013, Southampton was included in the Crap Towns list and was described as having “some disastrous post-war urban sprawl” by the UK’s Rough Guide.

Co-curator Owen Hatherley referred to the buildings as “underrated”, “misunderstood” and “absolutely first-class and up to anything else of their kind in Europe”, which is almost certainly true.

Pauline Mousley, from the southern branch of architectural heritage campaign group the 20th Century Society, said that the problem lies in that “materials such as concrete that were used…don’t weather well over time and now don’t look their best.”

One of the buildings, Wyndham Court, is actually a Grade II-Listed building. It was designed to reflect the link between the city and cruise liners, because what could look better than a building trying to look like a boat? A Soton Tab survey in 2013 had a comment about the building, saying it was a “brutalist masterpiece”.

The announcement of this show comes just 6 months after City Gateway Halls was nominated for the ‘Carbuncle Cup’, a shortlist of ugly buildings created by magazine Building Design.

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Perhaps the university should host their own exhibition of the “Most Underrated Halls of Residence”, and could show off some “misunderstood” sticky kitchen floors and filthy bathrooms around campus. It certainly would have as much aesthetic appeal as this tribute to Southampton’s visual defects.