Efficient, fast and economic: the brutal beauty of the Richter’s skyscrapers

Needless to hide: brutalist architecture owes its name not only to the minimalism that distinguishes its forms, to the austerity of its no-frills architectural style. There is something incredibly terrible in the aspect that the brutalist concrete buildings show, a sense of terrible that can even be traced back to the Michelangiolesque one. In the case of socialist architecture, as we have seen it several times on the pages of our blog, this feeling is always present.

The buildings are presented as architectural forms of a centralized power that has the aspiration to provide everyone with a house, without thinking too much about the appearance of the latter. The Richter’s Skyscrapers, also called Rocket Buildings, in Zagreb are no different from many other brutalist buildings from the socialist past of Eastern Europe, but have peculiar characteristics that demonstrate how concrete was incredibly efficient in carrying out the task that power assigned to it: to be an efficient, fast and economic solution.

@Richard Morten

The area of Zagreb where the Rocket Buildings are located, called Novi Zagreb, is a clear example of an outlying residential area from the socialist period in the countries of the former Yugoslavia. It is one of the largest of such urban developments and fits in with the approaches that were popular at the time. The buildings are three in total and have the shape of three large towers. Four concrete buttresses at the corners, tapered upwards, make the structures look like missile launching platforms or that they themselves are about to take flight to space.

One of the characteristics of these buildings is the marked functionalism that characterizes them. In the absence of particular architectural elements aimed at decreasing the “weight” of the appearance of these large concrete missiles, the structures appear really brutal with thin windows that suggest narrow spaces inside. Although the cement used has stained and blackened over time, we can say that the state of conservation of the buildings is very good.

@Richard Morten

The architects behind the project (Vjenceslav Richter, Berislav Šerbetić, Ljubo Iveta, Vjenceslav Richter, Olga Korenik) wanted to give their work the appearance of something that could be defined as “utopian”.The utopian vision that gave birth to this urban model contrasts today, after years of poor maintenance, with an image of deterioration: empty ground floors and public spaces are slowly being colonized by nature, while the buildings suffer from pathologies that are increasingly visible from the outside.

Now, tell us what the sight of these buildings conveys to you!

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