Wyndham Court, Southampton
In the 20s and 30s, all Modern architects seemed to be infatuated with Ocean Liners. The curves, contours and towers of a Cunard would be adapted into their houses and flats. The Brutalism of the 60s would, on the other hand, appear to have been a rejection of this high seas frippery for something more earthy and urban.
Wyndham Court in Southampton is the world’s only Brutalist Ocean Liner. This block of flats, which looms over Southampton Central Station, throwing the blandness of its surroundings into sharp relief, is – intentionally or not – a tribute to a bygone era of glamour and luxurious transport, fittingly in the very port where the Queen Mary, the Titanic et al made their voyages.
Making buildings symbolise something is something generally associated with the grisly jokiness of the ‘80s, such as Terry Farrell’s TVAM eggcups and so forth. Wyndham Court, though, makes its associations while never seeming anything less than logical. Twin blocks of flats angling themselves around a central public square, with shops at the edges and turrets sticking out strategically, hewn from white-grey, lustrous concrete, the long, jutting forms unmistakably suggest some sort of Corbusian cruise ship.