2020 | 34(1) | 179-210
Article title

Changes in the structure of historical consciousness and the perception of architectural style: A case study in the popular perception of Brutalism from 1945 to 2019

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This study investigates changes in the popularity of Brutalist buildings from the 1940’s to present. Our methodological framework is derived from three sources: (1) Reinhardt Koselleck’s work on historical consciousness in the field of conceptual history; (2) Martin Heidegger’s phenomenological approach to temporality, mood, and perception, and: (3) Ernst Becker’s work on the denial of death and the quest for immortality. Our thesis is that changing perceptions of Brutalist architecture, in many cases radically different evaluations of the same buildings, are the effects of historically specific cultural, political, and social structures. In phenomenological terms, these structures form fairly discrete systems of relevance. That which is held to be profoundly interesting, or exciting, or progressive in one system of relevance can appear dull, menacing, or foolish in another. The systems that we identity, describe, and explain, are: (1) Collective mobilization in the service of progress (1941- 1978); (2) In the Shadow of the Tyranny of the State 1978-2001; and (3) Seeking Certainty and Security in the Ambiguity of Global Risk: 2001 to 2019. We show how each system has produced a distinct perspective on brutalist architecture which influences the popularity of the style, or lack thereof.
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