SOS Brutalism

SOS Brutalism

A Global Survey

The first-ever global survey of brutalist architecture from the 1950s to the 1970s, based on research project carried out collaboratively by Deutsches Architekturmuseum DAM and Wüstenrot Foundation.


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Title Information

Edited by Oliver Elser, Philip Kurz, Peter Cachola Schmal

1st edition

, 2017

Hardback with paperback supplement

716 pages in total, 686 color and 411 b/w illustrations

22.5 x 27.5 cm

ISBN 978-3-03860-075-6

In cooperation with Deutsches Architekturmuseum DAM and Wüstenrot Foundation


"SOS Brutalism" is a distress signal. Since the 1950s, eminent architects around the world have realized buildings expressing an uncompromising attitude. Predominantly, yet not exclusively, they used exposed concrete, or béton brut (hence the term brutalism), for the construction. Today, many of these always controversially discussed buildings are in danger of demolition or, at least, of reconstruction that often may change their appearance beyond recognition. In recent years, an initiative to protect and preserve this significant global heritage of 20th-century architecture has gained momentum, mainly in the internet. Using the hashtag #SOSBritalism, the Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM, German Museum of Architecture) in Frankfurt on the Main and the Wüstenrot Foundation participate in this campaign with a vast collaborative research project.

The result of this research to date is a global survey of brutalist architecture of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, presented in an exhibition at DAM in autumn 2017 and a coinciding and uniquely comprehensive book. Some 100 contributors document around 120 key buildings from this period, including many previously unpublished discoveries that are in acute danger of loss through neglect of intended demolition. Moreover, the book features overviews of brutalism in architecture in twelve regions around the world. Case studies of hotspots such as the Macedonian capital Skopje or New Haven, Connecticut, and essays on the history and theory of brutalism round out this lavishly illustrated book. The supplement collects papers of an international symposium on brutalism in architecture held in Berlin in 2012.

The book is published in conjunction with the exhibition SOS Brutalism—Save the Concrete Monsters at DAM in Frankfurt on the Main (8 November 2017 to 25 February 2018) and at Architekturzentrum Wien (3 May to 6 August 2018).


Deutsche Ausgabe

Authors & Editors

Peter Cachola Schmal

 is director of Deutsches Architekturmuseum DAM in Frankfurt on the Main. In 2016, he curated together with Oliver Elser and Anna Scheuermann the exhibition Making Heimat in the German pavilion at the International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale.

Oliver Elser

 is a curator at Deutsches Architekturmuseum DAM in Frankfurt on the Main. In 2016, he was co-curator of the German pavilion at the International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale.

Philipp Kurz

 is managing director of Wüstenrot Foundation in Ludwigsburg, Germany, and teaches as a professor at the Institute of Design and Building Technology, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.


SOS Brutalism demonstrates the richness and diversity of the style. ... [Brutalist buildings] collectively represent a post–World War II moment of experimentation with form and new materials, something that is worth protecting.” Hyperallergic


“A monumental survey. ... A treasure trove of unsung buildings and oddities. . . . Covering the period between 1950 and 1970, it uses new photography and archive imagery to rally for preservation and recognition, making it a must for lovers of architecture’s more far-flung fringes. Lovers of raw surfaces, bold forms and naked concrete are spoilt for choice.” Wallpaper


“Save the concrete monsters: That’s the unofficial rallying cry of SOS Brutalism. .... The scope of the survey is staggering: more than 750 pages, it spotlights projects from around the globe, focusing especially on a handful of case studies, among them churches, British universities, and Japanese civic halls. ... The book represents a significant contribution to charting the global rise of this period of architecture and what remains of that legacy.” Architect magazine


“Solid and impeccably researched but also very engaging and illustrated with plenty of contemporary images and archive documents.” We Make Money Not Art


“The ultimate global survey of archive of Brutalism.” Domus, on the exhibition


“Brutalism has become a fad and fascination for design nerds, and SOS Brutalism does not disappoint. . . . Begun as a hashtag in 2015, #SOSBrutalism sought to draw awareness to the fact that these formerly derided, now-fashionable buildings are not registering on the radar of traditional architectural preservationists, even though many are in danger of being razed. Sending out an SOS to the world, . . . Elser, Kurz, and Schmal have collected over one thousand edifices from nearly every continent. . . . The book showcases 120 significant projects.” Noah Chasin, 4Columns


“To some, Brutalist buildings are eyesores, monstrosities. But Elser, Kurz, and Schmal believe Brutalism is an architectural style worthy of preservation—and have created an online campaign, book and exhibition to that end.” BBC Culture


SOS Brutalism: A Global Survey, the companion to the exhibition and the start of an ongoing online project, admirably balances the visual and historical qualities of architectural publishing, presenting dozens of buildings around the world (many I was never familiar with) through photos and drawings, with intelligent texts on the characteristics of Brutalism in different contexts as well as on the individual projects themselves.” A Daily Dose of Architecture Books