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Unexpected beauty and harmony

Olivia Broome's new book, 'Brutalist Plants' is published by Hoxton Press

Brutalism, an architectural style that emerged in the mid-20th century, is known for its rugged, raw aesthetic and use of exposed materials, primarily concrete. Its name derives from the French term "béton brut," meaning "raw concrete," which captures the essence of the style.

Characterized by massive forms, geometric shapes, and an emphasis on functionality, brutalist architecture often leaves structural elements visible, creating an unapologetically honest visual impact.

While Brutalism initially gained popularity for its straightforward and utilitarian design, it later faced criticism for its perceived coldness and association with urban decay. However, a renewed appreciation has emerged, celebrating its bold expression and historical significance. 

This revival is beautifully encapsulated in Olivia Broome's new book, 'Brutalist Plants,' published by Hoxton Press.

Broome, who runs the successful Instagram account @brutalistplants, explores the fascinating interplay between the stark, manufactured world of brutalist architecture and the organic resilience of plant life. 

Her book, a 208-page hardback measuring 151 x 199mm, delves into the unexpected beauty that arises when nature meets the raw forms of brutalist structures. From angular terraces overgrown with vines to cracks in concrete walls becoming arteries for moss, 'Brutalist Plants' showcases a story of resilience and harmony between the natural and the man-made.

As architectural discourse evolves, eco-brutalism has emerged as a movement that combines the principles of brutalism with sustainable and eco-friendly design practices.

Eco-brutalism maintains the bold, raw aesthetic of its predecessor while incorporating green technologies and sustainable materials. This approach not only addresses environmental concerns but also enhances the visual and functional appeal of buildings.

Eco-brutalist architecture often features:

1. Sustainable materials: using low-carbon concrete, recycled steel, and other eco-friendly materials.

2. Green integration: incorporating green roofs, living walls, and extensive plant life both inside and outside buildings.

3. Energy efficiency: employing passive solar design, high-performance insulation, and renewable energy sources.

4. Water management: implementing rainwater harvesting, greywater recycling, and efficient water fixtures.

5. Connection to nature: emphasizing a strong connection to natural surroundings, integrating landscapes and ensuring harmony with the environment.

6. Resilience and longevity: designing buildings to withstand environmental stresses and the test of time, minimizing the need for frequent renovations.

Notable examples of eco-brutalism include the Bosco Verticale in Milan, PARKROYAL on Pickering in Singapore, and One Central Park in Sydney. These projects illustrate how the integration of greenery and sustainable practices can transform the imposing forms of brutalism into living, breathing structures that benefit both people and the environment.

Olivia Broome's 'Brutalist Plants' captures this intersection beautifully. Her images tell a compelling story of how plants can soften and enrich brutalist architecture, revealing an unexpected beauty in the contrast. 

As eco-brutalism continues to evolve, Broome's work reminds us of the importance of resilience and the potential for harmony between the built environment and the natural world.

In celebrating both brutalism and eco-brutalism, 'Brutalist Plants' invites readers to appreciate the raw, unfiltered beauty of this architectural style and its capacity for renewal and growth.

Whether you're an architecture enthusiast, a plant lover, or simply curious about the fusion of these two worlds, Broome's book offers a captivating exploration of resilience and unexpected beauty.