The Brutal Sharp Edge

Architecture in current times has increasingly been about capturing attention. It often incorporates aggressive structures that are usually, impractical and gimmicky – is this forward thinking modernist design or unsavoury, iconoclasm?

For example, stepping out of Old Street tube station, immediately you’re confronted by the Montcalm building, often being photographed by passers by, it’s design is based on a post-modern gimmick – you could view this as spectacular or just visually aggressive depending on your point of view. The Carbuncle awards which are given to the most ugly and impractical architecture, wrote about it:

“It’s one of the most aggressive buildings in London. It visually assaults anyone approaching it from Old Street roundabout, and distorts the street view into a time-warp-like perspective with its acutely sharp and unforgiving angle. One wonders if the intention is solely to provoke – not just the passers-by but also the hotel guests with its petty windows.”

As Scott Bukataman writes in regards to cities in J.G. Ballard’s fiction, modern ‘cities jungles, highways, and suburbs […] are relentlessly claustrophobic, yet empty; spectacular, but not seductive; relentlessly meaningful, yet resistant to logic. The repetition and obsessiveness of these works suspends temporality while it shrinks space.’

The late Zaha Hadid’s Vitra building in Germany has a similar aesthetic to the Montcalm, purpose built as a fire-station, but was so impractical that it’s now used as an art gallery, however, this building is often considered as a design classic that launched Hadid’s career.

Below are examples of a few other aggressive buildings from around the world:


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