In the 1950s, brutalism or brutalist architecture came from the French word “beton brut,” which means unfinished concrete. Due to the unfavorable acceptance of the design at the time, brut evolved into brutalist. It makes sense that heavyset structures composed of plain concrete devoid of artistic embellishments would be considered outsiders in a society where aesthetics are valued highly.
HISTORY OF PHILIPPINE BRUTALISM
Brutalism first appeared in post-World War II Europe, where there was a pressing need to build many cheap homes. During the period, Brutalist architecture emerged, emphasizing simplicity and practicality while eschewing complexity and ornamentation. The brutalist architectural movement grows worldwide, especially in Asia, where sensible concepts are easily adapted. During the Marcos administration, the architectural style grew in popularity in the Philippines. The primary component of brutalism, concrete, is affordable and widely available in our nation. In the Philippines, architect Leandro Locsin constructed several brutalist buildings.
DIFFERENT BRUTALIST ARCHITECTURE IN THE PHILIPPINES
Evident of this brutalism are the varieties of structure in the country that has been built over the past. First, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, or MWSS, is located in Manila. It was then transferred to Diliman, Quezon City, where its structure remains up until the present.
Another structure is the Government Service Insurance System or GSIS Complex. The Architects Collaborative (TAC), based in the United States, and Jorge Y. Ramos and Associates created the GSIS Complex in Pasay City, which has a total floor area of more than 30,000 square meters. The renowned Banaue Rice Terraces influenced its design in Ifugao.
One more architecture is Romulo Hall, UP Diliman. The outdated Romulo Hall inside UP Diliman is simple to overlook. Especially since it’s next to the more modern and upscale GT-Toyota Asian Center. Additionally, you rarely get to gaze at it when you’re approaching from this side of campus inside a rumbling UP-Katipunan vehicle. But we adore this structure because Juan Nakpil, the late National Artist for Architecture, designed it, and it now serves as the Institute of Islamic Studies for the university.
Aside from this is the hard-edged Ramon Magsaysay Center, a dignified and spotless presence along a busy highway in Malate, Manila. It was constructed in 1967 by Alfredo Luz and Associates, Pietro Belluschi, and Alfred Yee Associates in memory of the late former President Magsaysay, who died in a plane disaster. It has 18 stories.
One of the most opulent hotels in the Philippines is the Peninsula Manila, popularly referred to as the “Manila Pen” by locals. It is proudly Brutalist. This opulent establishment has stood in Makati City since 1976 and was created by the late architect Gabriel Formoso.
The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Complex, another Brutalist behemoth in Pasay City, is only a short distance from the Philippine International Complex Center. These two buildings were created by the late National Artist for Architecture Leandro Locsin and constructed in 1976 and 1969.
Another is the residential structure Legaspi Tower 100, which is located along Legazpi Street. Antonio Mercado created it. It is renowned for its acute angles and powerful vertical linework on the façade. Next off is the Development Academy of the Philippines is located near Shaw Boulevard and Sheridan Street in the Ortigas neighborhood. While this building may not have the same heavy gray and slab appearance as the Makati buildings, it does have wings that project out at sharp angles, a primarily concrete façade, and clever use of tropical design to promote sun shading and airflow.
If your looking for a fast-food chain, KFC Greenhills is housed in the Pacific Machines Building. It is an oddly located fast food establishment on the main artery in Metro Manila. The structure stands out because of its alternating blocks that jut in commanding, diagonal patterns.
The Padre Faura Science Hall shows how brutalism can change and adapt to suit various situations, contexts, and goals. Brick and concrete are used in the construction, softening the structure’s façade and giving buildings from the 1960s and 1970s a brighter tone. It houses the Physics Department of Ateneo.
The Ramon Magsaysay Center is a strikingly modern structure with brutalist overtones. The Ramon Magsaysay Center, also known as the RMC, was constructed in 1967 by Alfredo Luz and is a pioneer since it was the first building in the nation to employ a column-free structural design through the use of pre-cast and pre-stressed beams. This building’s massive entrance is stunning, and the travertine cladding is just as impressive. Additionally, the structure is made to endure the salty air in this city region.
BRUTALISM AS PART OF THE COUNTRY’S CULTURE
Due to their rough edges, modular construction, and exposed concrete and steel, Brutalist buildings are sometimes described as stiff, cold, dreary, and even dystopic and dictatorial. However, we think this negative connotation is unjustified. Even though the majority of the country’s brutalist structures are old, they are nevertheless an essential part of Filipino history and tradition. More so than the movement’s outside historical context, it is a crucial part of Philippine architectural history. Even in contemporary designs, the concrete architectural prodigy can be seen, though the phrase isn’t often used. The brutalist style of architecture has proven adaptable to changes and local impressions.
Read more about the Philippines on our travel blog.