MUSEUM OF BRUTALIST ARCHITECTURE

Visit the museum and experience a Brutalist building

Arrange a visit or a tour of MoBA‘s exhibition at the museum which is hosted in the Hall for All

Museum of Brutalist Architecture

MoBA  is located at the ‘HALL FOR ALL’ in Acland Burghley School’s Brutalist Community, Culture and Heritage Venue

Located in North London it supports creative events, exhibitions and performance

Explore Brutalist buildings

Immerse yourself in local heritage, arts and culture by visiting our [STORIES] collections. Find out about latest activities, events and exhibitions. Get involved in [WHAT’S ON], use our interactive maps to [EXPLORE] Brutalist buildings in your area, and learn more about Brutalist architecture by visiting the museums [INSIGHT] zone.

MoBA aims to stimulate awareness of Brutalist architecture to amplify its cultural and heritage value and to explore, record, and celebrate the communities that live near or within these buildings

MoBA Yellow Pin

[EXPLORE]

Brutalist buildings can be accessed via the interactive digital map.
Look for the Yellow Pin, use your smartphone to track your position and find incredible Brutalist buildings in your area

Black_MoBA Pin

[STORIES]

Immerse yourself in local heritage, arts and culture by visiting our [STORIES] collections.
Look for the
Black and Yellow Pin

Insights

[INSIGHT]

Access knowledge and resources about Brutalist architecture.
Explore brutalist architecture using MoBA’s interactive learning tools and download FREE learning resources

Explore the Collections, learn more about the social heritage of Brutalist architecture, immerse yourself in stories, and discover more about its history and impact

Access knowledge and resources about Brutalist architecture

Explore brutalist architecture using MoBA’s interactive learning tools, see what people’s interpretations are of Brutalist architecture, see MoBA’s simple definitions and access free downloadable learning resources. You can even test your knowledge taking the Quiz

Insights

MoBA’s Learning and Insight Zone

Explore brutalist architecture using MoBA’s interactive learning tools,
see what people’s interpretations are of Brutalist architecture, see MoBA’s
simple definitions and access free downloadable learning resources.

Interactive Brutalist Building Map

Use the map to plan your walking trail of Brutalist buildings. Select the TRAIL menu for suggested routes. Search by category of project and click on map to explore more about each location.

Heritage, Culture and Community Stories

Use the interactive map to explore Heritage, Culture and Community [STORIES] that are related to or inspired by brutalist buildings. We collect stories, insights and experiences such as [Multimedia, Audio and Video], [Sketches, Photography and Drawing], [Music, Poetry, Dance and Theatre], [Storytelling and Narration] and any community or personal creative output which has a connection with Brutalist buildings.

Visit the Museum

Visit the museum at Acland Burghley School’s Hall for All Venue. You can see related information about the Brutalist building including the original architects model.

Get Involved

The museum team supports education and learning opportunities, prepares and run workshops and supports people from all backgrounds, abilities and ages to participate.

Discovery

Visit the museum at 93 Burghley Road, London NW5 1UJ

What’s On

Visit the ‘Hall for All’ events calendar to see current events and exhibitions as well as opportunities for immersive experiences and performance.

Image of the Museum of Brutalist Architecture's Hall
Museum of Brutalist Architecture

It was a post-war building marking an era of immensely significant social and economic history. This was a period when the country’s cities were still bomb-damaged and in need of upgrading and cities required many new buildings.  This period represented the birth of Brutalist Architecture, buildings had to be low cost, simple, for the benefit of people and functional.

After World War II, a group known as the London County Council (LCC) decided to innovate the schooling system. They amalgamated Acland and Burghley schools in 1959 to establish a new one on the site where the Burghley Road school once stood.

Unlike traditional schools with different ‘houses’, the ingenious headmaster, L.A.V. Abley, introduced a unique concept. He structured the school into lower, middle, and upper sections, each housing two groups of students. This initiative aimed to foster strong connections among students, creating substantial friend groups within the school.

The architectural layout of the school reflects this vision catering to the three pairs of year groups. Some believe that the design and shape of the school draw inspiration from the road layout of Tufnell Park, where the roads converge at a single point. Additionally, the assembly hall, designed in an intriguing shape, was added following the demolition of the old schools.

Why is it a hexagonal shape? 

Reed Watts, the architects for the restoration of the hall, say:

The Assembly Hall at the heart of the school is the most explicit reflection of this approach and was conceived as a focal point for school life and the wider community. The original headmaster is quoted as saying that “It wasn’t until we got [the hall] that we had the feeling that at last the school was one community. Now it is.”

The hexagonal space was designed as a double-ended auditorium to house everything from lectures to boxing matches and operatic performances. Over the years however, a number of insensitive alterations have compromised the integrity of the space and its usability.

The assembly hall was more than just an interesting shape; it was also an expression of the architect’s ethos of designing a democratic space that was accessible for all. The shape of the assembly hall results in excellent acoustics, particularly for music performances, ensuring that most places can experience the same quality of sound, whether they are located at the front of the audience or at the back. This is what is meant by democratic design.

Another example is the German architect Hans Scharoun. He designed the new Berlin Philharmonic concert hall (1956-1963) to much critical acclaim, embodying the same principles of unconventional forms, non-orthogonal walls and surfaces, and angled ceilings. The performances and their outcomes were described by some as ‘spatial magic.’

Much like the school assembly hall, the Berlin Philharmonie hosts concerts ‘in the round,’ allowing audiences to encircle the performer or musicians.

What story can buildings tell. What are the signposts of brutalist architecture. How can we celebrate this important architectural movement and explore its connection with the people that use, experience, live, learn and work within or near them.

MoBA aims to connect a greater number and wider range of people with Brutalist architecture and its heritage

What is the cultural connection with Brutalist heritage architecture?

In the 1960s, large housing estates replaced Victorian slums, particularly in poor areas or those affected by war damage, with this bright, bold new architecture featuring spacious open-plan apartments connected by walkways. These walkways, sometimes wide, came to be known as ‘streets in the sky’. They provided spaces where children could play, neighbours could meet and socialize, fostering a sense of community. This communal spirit was the ethos behind many Brutalist estates such as the Whittington Estate. New residents enjoyed bright, clean homes with hot running water and indoor bathrooms—not always present in older Victorian houses.

However, by the 1970s, severe economic recession and neglect by local authorities, owing to lack of funds, led to the deterioration and neglect of these buildings. They lost their charm and sense of newness; the concrete dulled, and few repairs were made. In the eyes of many communities, these unloved buildings mirrored the neglect they felt. In some cases, the buildings were abandoned, left to their fate. They often failed to support the communities living within them, as residents’ voices went unheard and undervalued by authorities.

Brutalist architecture served as a canvas for artists and the creative industry, who viewed these structures as opportunities to craft a narrative, often portraying them in dystopian settings. Films like Blade Runner, Resident Evil: Afterlife, and A Clockwork Orange depicted these buildings as futuristic and ominous backdrops. However, these portrayals did not truly capture the lives of the communities residing in or near these structures. Films like The Kitchen shed light on the personal stories of individuals in extensive estates facing eviction for newer constructions, narrating a more human-centered tale.

The school, along with many other Brutalist buildings, holds the stories of the people who inhabited them. These narratives embody individuals’ creativity when influenced by their living community—it may recount tales of hardship through art, performance, dance, or music. It might share wisdom, knowledge, or memories. MoBA and the Hall for All serve as places where these stories are exchanged, offering a platform for voices to be heard.

MoBA aims to promote live performances within the hall, encouraging individuals to express their views and interpretations using their preferred medium. This act of performance enhances the cultural heritage of the Hall for All, aligning with the original ethos of Brutalist architecture.