A BUMPER book on Brutalist architecture – brilliant! I’m biased because I worked for a bit in one of Denys Lasdun’s masterpieces and grew up with the stuff in 1960s East Kilbride.

I watched plum and mustard-painted double-deckers filled with Wimpey workies heading out to mounds of mud and ziggurats of cement slurry.

They built a civic centre with its hall named after our twin town – Ballerup in Denmark.

Then there was the Orwellian titled Centre One, where my dad toiled, looking like a cut-price Yugoslavian take on Ernö Goldfinger’s Balfron Tower in London. It’s gone now…

Nearby there’s the Dollan Baths designed by Alexander Buchanan Campbell with its parabolic arched roof and its struts, a nifty riff on Notre Dame’s flying buttresses.

Campbell took inspiration from Pier Luigi Nervi, whose Palazzetto dello Sport in Rome, an inverted fruit bowl, features in Owen Hopkins’s marvellous collection of text and images.

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Another influence pictured here was Kenzo Tange’s Yamanashi Press building, a doppelganger for Cumbernauld’s town centre.

Scotland’s new town animals were living at the cutting edge of modernist architecture, a world of buff concrete referencing contemporary homes and offices in Scandinavia, Italy, Japan, Uruguay and Brazil.

We were internationalists heading into the atom age!

Not everyone was (or is) a fan of brutalism – shout out to King Charles! Its enormity can dwarf, its energy can intimidate. Its buildings were often made for the masses – huge housing projects, churches, community halls; they speak of crowds and power.

Many associate their excess with totalitarianism. And then some people just don’t like concrete.

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But at their best brutalist buildings have a bold grandeur and sweep that still impresses.

The critic Reyner Banham thought brutalist constructions must be memorable as an image. Hopkins gives us plenty that stick in the mind: Jenga-like ministries in Tbilisi, corncob flats in Chicago.

The superb monochrome photos of the 210 buildings here look like exquisite graphite drawings. They conjure – dually – dystopia and utopia, mirroring the often-contradictory qualities of the buildings.

Hopkins asks us to squint and turn Edinburgh-born Kate Macintosh’s Dawson’s Heights in London into an Italian hill town. You can… just.

We see Leicester University’s Engineering Building designed by Glasgow’s James Stirling with its chamfered edges and frosted glass. The critic Jonathan Meades (quoted here) has it in for Stirling: “His buildings, like their bombastic maker, looked tough but were perpetual invalids, basket cases.”

Stirling versus Meades – now there’s a square go.

Peter Womersley’s Gala Fairydean Rovers stadium in Galashiels is also featured with Hopkins commenting that it’s “arguably the most striking stand in all of Britain”. The concrete stand has an enormous, cantilevered roof. From side on, it looks like the open jaw of a giant robot, the seats as the lower dentition.

There’s an implicit threat the structure might bite down on you. That it won’t is part of its great charm.

East Kilbride also has St Bride’s aka Fort Apache because of its resemblance to a sunset orange adobe redoubt from a John Ford Western, an extraordinary creation designed by the firm Gillespie, Kidd and Coia.

Andy MacMillan and Isi Metzstein worked for the team and their abandoned seminary in Cardross is praised by Hopkins as one of the most important examples of Brutalist architecture in the world. That’s right, Scotland – the world!

It now lies in ruins, graffitied, like some ancient glory from another, better, civilization.

There’s still hope the category A-listed building will be restored.

So, what went wrong with Scottish Brutalism? Hopkins provides a clue – the style he says “sought to bridge the global and the local… drawing from the local in the forms it deployed, the way the buildings related to their sites and, to an extent, materials”.

Uh oh, concrete doesn’t fair well under driving Atlantic rain and Baltic frost.

As Meades also noted, the North is obsessed with the idea of the South. We want to live outdoors, taps aff – we want our architecture to be Mediterranean and white, cooling and enormous. We want brise-soleils and no double glazing. What the hell were we thinking?

Brutalism in Scotland looked great but ultimately it was a bit barking. What’s left is yesterday’s future today, like the Le Corbusier-inspired roof of Glasgow’s Met Tower, a scarred nostalgia for an age yet to come.