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Britain's Second City Fights to Save Its Brutalist Architecture

But is it worth preserving?
Detail of Birmingham's Ringway Centre.
Detail of Birmingham's Ringway Centre.Bs0u10e01/Wikimedia Commons

In Birmingham, England, there’s a fight afoot to save some of the city’s most striking buildings from the wrecker’s hammer. The buildings’ defenders insist that current redevelopment plans are threatening a vital part of the U.K. city’s architectural heritage. This group may well be right (and their concern familiar from elsewhere), but the places they’re defending aren’t the most obvious pawns in a struggle over historic preservation.

None of the structures in question pre-date 1960, and all of them heavily feature concrete, that most reviled of building materials. That’s because Birmingham is the latest battleground in the worldwide debate over what is currently the 20th century’s most contested architectural style—Brutalism.