Skip to Content

Déjà Bru

Gallery: Where Heroic meets hamburger

The Milan-based photographer Roberto Conte once remarked on the “persistent repetition of patterns” he noticed as a peculiar and interesting feature of Brutalist designs. Riffing on that idea in the Taste issue of ArchitectureBoston, we went in search of high-low pas de deux in the architectural realm. The concept is admittedly cheeky: Take a joint serving food (or shaped like it) and match it up with a building in the Brutalist style. Conte’s work was what inspired us when we noticed that The Donut Hole, a landmark bakery in La Puente, California, eerily echoed the geometry of a 1997 residential building in Novazzano, Switzerland, he had photographed.

We’re not sure this is what Reyner Banham had in mind when he wrote his 1955 seminal essay, “The New Brutalism,” declaring that it “requires that the building should be an immediately apprehensible visual entity, and that the form grasped by the eye should be confirmed by experience of the building in use.” These stark mash-ups, though, might be concrete proof that neo-Brutalism is funnier than Banham could ever have imagined.

— Fiona Luis


Left: The Big Pineapple in Woombye, Australia, 1971, by Gary Smallcombe and Associates, Paul Luff, and Peddle Thorp and Harvey. It is a fiberglass building with an observation deck and an audiovisual facility. Photo: Unknown, from a postcard c. 1975

Right: Les Choux de Créteil, 1974, by Gerard Grandval, a group of 10 cylindrical residential buildings in the Parisian suburbs. Photo: Andrew Garford Moore


Left: The Big Cone in Los Angeles was a Chapman’s Ice Cream parlor in the 1930s; architect unknown.

Right: Grand Central Water Tower in Midrand, South Africa, 1996, by GAPP Architects & Urban Designers. It is a functional piece of urban sculpture. Photo: Courtesy GAPP Architects


Above Top: The Donut Hole in La Puente, California, 1968, by John Tindall, Ed McCreany, and Jesse Hood. Photo: © 2017 Ashok Sinha.

Above: A residential building in Novazzano, Switzerland, 1997, by Mario Botta. Photo: © Roberto Conte


Left: The Big Chicken in Marietta, Georgia, 1963, by Hubert Puckett, was originally built to house Johnny Reb’s Chick, Chuck and Shake. Since 1974, it has been a KFC. Photo: Ryan MacDonald/Marietta.com

Right: San Giovanni Bono, a church in Milan, 1968, by Arrigo Arrighetti. Photo: Matteo Ceschi


Above Top: The Burger That Ate LA, in Los Angeles, 1989, by Solberg & Lowe Architects. Photo: David Graham.

Above: Budluzdha Monument in Kazanluk, Bulgaria, 1981, by Georgi Stoilov, was built to commemorate the founding of the socialist movement; it was abandoned in 1989. Photo: Ciarán Fahey