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Brunnadern, Residential Buildings, Atelier 5, Bern 1970, Brutalism © HEARTBRUT / Karin Bürki


Picture of Words & Photography: Karin Bürki

Words & Photography: Karin Bürki

The discreet charm of bourgeois Brutalism

With their pioneering developments in Flamatt and Halen, the Bernese architects’ collective Atelier 5 have proven that they can do progressive “béton brut”. Less well known is that they had no problem with a). baroque Brutalism and b). the discreet charm of the bourgeoisie. The four apartment blocks of exposed concrete in Bern’s posh diplomatic quarter are a kind of left-wing Brutalist answer to the upper-class splendour of the high walls and meticulously manicured shrubs of the surrounding villas. Individual layouts, private terraces and separate entrances, some with spiral staircases, ensure that privacy is maintained and the apartments feel like detached houses. As befits an upper-middle-class residential project, Brunnmatt has its own indoor swimming pool as well as communal hobby rooms.

This is a private property. Approach with discretion and diplomacy. If you are caught red-handed, you can deescalate the situation by pretending to be an Atelier 5 fan in English, preferably with a posh British accent.
Brunnadern, Atelier 5, Bern 1970, Brutalism, © Karin Bürki. Explore more on

© Karin Bürki/Heartbrut

© Karin Bürki/Heartbrut

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