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Brutalism in Remedy's new Game: 'Control'

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If anyone wants to know where my head is at, it is creeping into the world of architecture.  Brutalism was the mode of expression that Espi famously employed in Suspended in Dusk.  It has always dumbfounded me a bit in how it creates mood.  While I do not agree with the vast majority of 'people who get paid to write bullshit' that Brutalism is a suffocating and oppressive style, I certainly feel like trying to make Brutalist architecture is quite the oppressive challenge.  I have yet to play Control, but I thought it looked cool and it seems now that people are taking photos of it for their own Brutalist inspired works.


The article goes on to express how Brutalism looks so cool when it is in contrast with more organic forms.  It seems the general view is that some green stuff makes Brutalism look dang good.  In my mind, though, I cannot help but think Doom's own Hell Theme could be that naturalistic contrast.  Then again, Doom 2 also has a tree sprite.  So there is that.


When I first started being fascinated with Doom as an adult (some 5 years ago or so) what really struck me about the initial creators such as Romero and Sandy was how they were able to convey so much information in a visual manner.  I have really been excited to plumb the depths of visual cues and visual storytelling- and Brutalism, imo, fits into those modes of expression rather well.  Espi definitely had the Promethean Gift.  In a map I am making right now, I added a waiting room with benches.  I added a tram for carrying boxes.  I was considering adding a crane and doing a floating box to emulate 3D.  But all this is rather short sighted.  When a map has a style to it, then and only then does it actually have a real sense of place imo.  Episode 4 comes the closest to achieving this and is, above all else, remarked as the most beautiful Doom environment (Agent Green and Orange).


Maybe Doomguy, on his way back from Hell, gets lost between portals and has a 'Turtles in Time' voyage where he sees Gothic Churches and has to fight Shamblers, travels back to the savage land with dinosaurs amidst Byzantine cities, and visits  an underwater and Romanesque Atlantis to fight fish-people addicted to plasmids.  I think people would be down for that.  But Espi brought Brutalism to the UAC and it is far more potent of visual narrative than an upside-down cross could ever achieve.  Its great to see a game like Control effectively use this style and I think it goes to show us how these sorts of design principles can elevate design.


Feel free to share your thoughts on Brutalism, Doom Architecture, Why I am Wrong About Stuff, and Whatnot Else.





Edited by Mk7_Centipede

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Good read thanks for posting. 


I'm a fan of brutalism in theory and style, but not in practice. Cold/earth color tones with striking geometry and sharp angles is interesting to look at, especially with strong contrast in organic forms or brighter colors to offset. I agree with the original post but I personally wouldn't want to actually live in such places. Certain buildings in a city should stand out though, I think. Museums, research centres, municipal/gov't facilities etc.


Few styles have the immediate feeling of permanency as brustalism. Pyramids or ziggurats are a good example, an eternal resting place of a monarch that calls the attention of all who see it.


The buildings in the end screen of Ultimate Doom are brutalist I reckon, these giant burning slabs rising out of the earth. They make for a surprising view curving away in an exaggerated almost fish-eye perspective. 

Edited by reflex17

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Here’s concrete contrasted with nature in a very Doom-y way. When I was younger I used to think Brutalism was grim, but now I’m split. I think white and gray concrete can look very good in a Brutalist context but so much of it is featured in run down tenements from Soviet bloc that it gets mentally grouped in with gray skies, rust stained concrete, failed government programs, etc. That can look cool as a setting but not as a place I’d want to be. However, I realized there are brutalist or brutalist-esque places I would want to be however the two things that dress it up nicely are bright sunlight and/or water/greenery.


edit: I feel like Brutalism has become such a dirty word that almost all examples you find googling it are trying to play up its “crumbling government regime” vibe so this marketing blog post from CB2 is kind of nice in that it’s not photographing brutalist architecture in an “ooh spooky buildings” way. https://www.cb2.com/blog/behind-design-brutalism-surprisingly-inspiring/

Edited by insertwackynamehere

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Many years ago I remember seeing a film called Quintet. It was written and directed by Robert Altman and starred Paul Newman. It was shot in 1979 in what remained of Montreal's Expo '67 exhibition, but covered in fake snow because it was set during an ice age - the camera had vaseline on the lens in every shot. Technically Expo '67 was mid-century modern, which existed in parallel with brutalism, but I remember that film and there's something about the murkiness that reminds me of Doom.


Expo '67 one of those big Buckminster Fuller-style domes:






It also had one of those planned-community-of-the-future projects, a la EPCOT, called Habitat '67: 



Nowadays it's melancholic, because it all fell into disrepair and the utopian vision that the designers had didn't come to pass, although in general the style has aged better than brutalism.


I went to Chernobyl last year, on one of those tours, and I've also visited Berlin and walked around the former East Berlin. From a British perspective was striking how much of it looked like Birmingham or bits of London. The general ambience reminded me of this awful building around the corner from Bank, which has since been demolished:



That was prime real estate in the middle of London until only ten years ago. I always wondered who occupied the building - it always looked deserted. London has almost been completely remodelled over the last decade and a bit, but even up until 2009 or so there was a run of derelict office blocks in a similar style at the sides of the train line running into Waterloo.


The classic brutalist film was A Clockwork Orange, which was shot just as the cheaply-built post-war estates were starting to become full of yobs wearing bowler hats:




This was back when kids in Britain looked as if they were in their thirties.

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Time changes perception of things. This may be, why to some people "brutalism" doesn't look so brutal anymore but more like "stylish" even "beautiful". It really just might have gotten a bad reputation because of it's intense use in autoritarian regimes. To them it probably looked "cool" and "futuristic". I personally like it, too and think it fits perfectly with the Doom engine's design and limitations. I really want to use it in a map one day, although I am still trying to grasp what actual brutalism is.

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