What they say about us
Concrete is not black or white, it is grey. Karin Bürki’s pictures show how diverse this grey can be.
Karin Bürki shines a new light on her “concrete beauties”. In 2019 she founded the format Heartbrut and website of the same name “to take a fresh look at Swiss concrete icons and free the solitaires from the stubborn monster cliché”. “Concrete is a cultural asset,” says Karin Bürki. She recently published the Carte Brute Zürich, a folding map featuring Zurich’s 40 most striking concrete icons.
Broadly speaking, I look for groundbreaking eye catchers that are still relevant today. But my camera always has a say too. One of my all-time favourites is Three Loops, a sculpture in the playground of the Grünau School that resembles oversized, curved strips of chewing gum. It may not figure in the top ten of the classic architectural guides, but it pops both on Instagram and as a postcard.
"Concrete, exciting? Exposed concrete, a piece of Swiss cultural heritage? Zurich writer Karin Bürki absolutely thinks so. But she is by no means naïve. She is well aware that the general public still regards concrete buildings from the 1960s and 1970s as "monsters" and eyesores. Keen to change that she has published "Carte Brute", a folding guide featuring the "50 most daring and exciting" Swiss concrete icons of the last 100 years."
Karin Bürki’s photos, some of which are taken from somewhat idiosyncratically chosen perspectives, are probably not every architect’s cup of tea, but they nevertheless function perfectly as a source of inspiration for future brutalist expeditions through Switzerland."
"Switzerland is well-stocked with brutalist icons. The post-war building boom brought us a good number of concrete buildings, exposed concrete (in French "béton brut") became a design tool in architecture. The writer and photographer Karin Hunter Bürki has been capturing these buildings photographically for some years now... With plenty of panache, she promotes the modernity and contemporary relevance of these concrete monsters so often condemned as ugly (despite revival and hype)."