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HEARTBRUT - IT MEANS: BE BOLD AND BRAVE. IT'S ABOUT SHARING CONCRETE LOVE IN A TOUGH WORLD.

Nude concrete – for some it is plain ugly and evil, for others it is pure love, and for some brutalist buildings make the ideal selfie-background. In Switzerland, exposed concrete is so omnipresent, it has become part of the cultural DNA. HEARTBRUT takes a fresh look at this uniquely rich and diverse heritage. Our message is simple: go out and discover the raw beauty of those concrete icons with your own eyes. We take care of the inspo and info. 

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We shine a new light on the brutalist icons of the post-war era from a contemporary and genre-blurring perspective. What inspires us is the bold, uncompromising attitude, raw aesthetics and the rebellious, but at the same time optimistic and innovative spirit these objects exude. We believe this is still relevant today. That is why we want to change and open up the conversation about this important, but still widely undervalued piece of cultural DNA.

We declare: raw is the new beautiful! It is in the name: HEARTBRUT is also an invitation to face today tough realites with heart, irreverence, courage and guts. It is about discovering beauty in the supposedly ugly. Let’s keep it brut and beautiful.

Yes, brutalism still polarises opinion. And yes, concrete needs to be more climate-friendly, and we’re just at the beginning of a very long journey here. But polemics don’t help the debate moving forward. By shining a light on our brutalist icons, we hope to highlight their cultural value.  But we also point the finger at what’s not so cool. We strongly believe in taking an honest, straight-talking approach.

Taking inspiration from the bold and brave attitude of brutalist architecture, HEARTBRUT champions Switzerland’s rich concrete heritage and connects it to current conversations across art, identity and everyday culture. Combining strong visuals, tight online edits and innovative print editions, the format cultivates a holistic, genre-blurring and inclusive approach. Our strong online presence and firm commitment to keep things brut & beautiful connect with worldwide audiences. HEARTBRUT was founded in 2019 by Zurich-based writer and photographer Karin Bürki. The format receives funding from various cantonal cultural institutions. HEARTBRUT is regularly featured in the media.

EXPLAINER

Béton brut is French for raw concrete. The term was popularised by Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier who used it to describe the materiality of his seminal 1952 Unité d’habitation in Marseille. In response, the movement Brutalism emerged via the UK. It championed raw, unfinished materials, bold geometries and massive forms, rewriting the rules of what a building should look like. In Switzerland, brutalist references remain resonant in the pared-down, all-over-rough-design of many contemporary objects.

Switzerland embraced concrete early on. The bold and elegantly curved concrete bridges designed by the Swiss engineer Robert Maillart caused a worldwide sensation at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1928, the first exposed concrete church was built in Basel. Until the 1950s, Swiss architects regarded concrete as a noble material. Swiss brutalism therefore tends to avoid crudity and provocation. The aim is always to blend the nobility and roughness of concrete in an ambitious but efficient and cost-effective way. The architecture is characterised by a pragmatic approach, attention to detail and a commitment to high-quality craftsmanship. It boasts a rich variety of styles, ranging from stark asceticism and opulent expressiveness to the subtle and poetic.   

In postwar Switzerland concrete played an important part in building a new and modern national identity. As the country began to radically modernise during the 1960, a tremendous building boom set in. Concrete, which was affordable and functional, made it possible. The numerous housing projects, schools, civic buildings, cultural centres, churches and essential infrastructure in bold exposed concrete optics bear witness to an optimistic era that looked confidently into the future. The buildings tell of a nation in motion in a time of unprecedented economic prosperity.

Switzerland has never really fallen out of love with béton brut. Nowhere is raw concrete more omnipresent and part of the everyday fabric than here. HEARTBRUT hopes to inspire you to rediscover this important, but still undervalued piece of Swiss cultural heritage.

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