The Brutalist Divide

Studio Egret West
Christophe Egret


This week (February 2nd) Studio Egret West held an open evening in the studio showroom led by Christophe Egret. His talk was called ‘Giving Modernism a Second Chance’ and SEW’s design approach when it comes to revitalising brutalist buildings.

SEW is not short of examples when it comes to working with modernist buildings, with a portfolio of projects including Park Hill, Sheffield; Balfron Tower, Tower Hamlets; Alton Estate, Roehampton and the Old Vinyl Factory, Hayes.

The audience was made up of fellow architects, collaborators and members of the London Society.

Christophe acknowledged that conservation bodies are generally opposed to changes to modernist buildings. This was particularly the case with the planning application for the restoration of the brutalist landmark Balfron Tower. Although these views represent a minority opinion, Christophe said the buildings represent more than an architectural movement; and his overriding objective is to give these buildings “second lives”.

When carrying out these projects, the studio implements its 50/50 architecture/urban design to unify the building with its surroundings. Developing the landscape and surrounding areas is seen as integral to developing a strong sense of community and social cohesion, which can be felt both on the ground and 30 floors up. 

A lively debate followed Christophe’s talk, with contributions from Roger Hawkins of Hawkins Brown Architects who SEW partnered with on Park Hill, as well as other members of the audience.

This event was hosted by the London Society. For more information and other upcoming events please see: