The south bank

Abstract and concrete: the beauty of brutalism

Nothing divides the British like modernist architecture. Traditionalists are suspicious of its utopian ambitions and dismiss it as ugly; proponents romanticise it, yearn for the civic principles that built it and gloss over its failings; the young see period charm in flat roofs and straight lines, while the old associate them with deprivation; the wealthy mostly avoid it — and many people have no choice but to live in it. Nearly 100 years after Le Corbusier set out his five points of modern architecture the British are still arguing about its merits, partly because we still live with so much of it: housing, offices and civic and industrial buildings. Two