Brutalist Sandcastles

Calvin Seibert makes modernist sandscastles on Coney Island. At Little Atoms, Caroline Christie interviewed him about his remarkable creations.

I like making things and tend to work with whatever is at hand. Building sandcastles at a beach to me is a very natural thing to be doing. As a child, I saw photographs of the French ski resort of Flaine. I was very taken by the brutalist buildings, designed by Marcel Breuer. Since then I have always gone out of my way to see brutalist architecture and when I build sandcastles I have them in mind.


A five-gallon paint bucket is essential. Paint buckets are particularly rigid and have a nice sharp edge for digging with. Then it is used for carrying water. Lots and lots of water. The tools are all made of plastic. I have a couple that are nothing more than a small rectangle of 1/8-inch plastic with a beveled edge and then a couple of trowels of different sizes.


Notable Replies

  1. These have the advantage of being much cheaper and quicker to demolish than their full scale counterparts.

  2. Why would you want to demolish them?

    They annoy Charles Windsor, which is as good a reason to keep them as any.

  3. I came here to point out that the term "brutalism" is abused horribly (as is "modernist", although when it comes to boingboing, neither can compare with the routine Geneva-convention-busting treatment of "minimalist").

    A good word to encompass both Breuer and these sandcastles would be "Bauhaus". If "brutalism" has any meaning at all, it doesn't apply to these sandcastles, and is tenuously connected to Breuer.

    The term doesn't stem from "brutality" in the sense of beating you up, but rather from the French sense of the word brut, as in raw and undisguised. Brutalist architecture is executed with straightforward, decisive processes (especially in-situ concrete) and wears the nature of its construction and materials openly. It doesn't dress itself up like classical or vernacular styles, nor does it take the contrivedly minimal forms of other schools of modernism.

    So there.

    ETA: DGMW, I like the sandcastles

  4. Boing Boing's architectural expertise begins and ends with the Haunted Mansion.

  5. Brutalism makes for great sculpture that human beings should never be expected to inhabit.

    • The exterior is intriguing and naturalistic in its way
    • The interior is a depressing, institutional place with little natural sunlight

    I spent a couple winters working in such a building and had to buy SAD lamps to survive.

Continue the discussion

52 more replies