If you’ve been affected, as many have, by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, it can be hard to remain positive. In the face of so many changes outside of our control, and with a serious health crisis happening so close to home, perhaps even affecting people we love, it’s difficult to look to the future and a return to ‘normality’, or whatever that may be after the worst is over.

So instead of looking towards uncertainty, we’re looking back at some of the simple pleasure that we enjoyed before life under lockdown, which we’ll all hopefully get to enjoy again soon.

Exploring the great outdoors

There’s nothing like a sunny day in England to get everyone out in the fresh air; we’re remembering lovely days out in our green and pleasant lands.

Sipping a coffee in a local café

Latte or espresso? Either way, picking up a coffee from your favourite café is definitely a simple pleasure.

Inviting friends over for a barbecue

The clink of glasses, sausages sizzling over coals: once social distancing ends, the first thing we’ll be planning is a meal with all our nearest and dearest.

Picking up our favourite ingredients from the shop

Going to the store and lingering over fresh meat, cheese, vegetables… even toilet paper!

Joining an exercise class

Stretch it out at yoga or work up a sweat at a HIIT class: joining an exercise class is a sociable way to burn some calories.

Home improvements… inside and out

Staring at the inside of your house for weeks has possibly made you want to make some changes… start compiling that list for when you can head down to B&Q.

Heading off on holiday

We’re looking back on memories of sandy beaches, snowy mountains and vibrant cities. One day we’ll be discovering the world again.

The morning commute

Traffic? Delayed trains? The mundane routine of a morning commute signals the return to normal life.

Popping round to a neighbour’s house

Offering a spare pint of milk or loaf of bread to a neighbour, watering their plants or letting the cat out. Helping out a neighbour is an easy way of showing you care.

However you’re spending your time at home during this period, just remember: one day, this will be a distant memory. It’s important to listen to official advice: stay home, save lives. We’re thinking of all the NHS staff and other crucial key workers who are helping to keep the country running at this challenging and unprecedented time.

We hope you all stay well, and we hope to see you all again very soon.

The rise of British brutalism

It’s always been controversial, but is brutalism once again cool? We explore the surprising rise in popularity of Brutalism, one of the most divisive forms of modern architecture.

What is brutalism?

Beginning in the 1950s and 60s, brutalism is a style of architecture that’s characterised by simple block buildings made from a raw concrete construction. The first use of the word was by Swedish architect Hans Asplund, who used the term nybrutalism, or ‘new brutalism’, to describe Villa Goth, a small house in Uppsala. His term caught on in Stockholm and was picked up by British architects in the city, and later taken up by arty young designers in London including Alison and Peter Smythson.

British architectural critic Reyner Banham expanded on Asplund’s term, turning it into a tongue-in-cheek pun on the French ‘béton brut’, which literally translates as raw concrete. Left rough and untreated, this material would become the defining trait of the movement.

Brutalism descended from the modernist architectural movement of the early 20th century, when function over form became the norm. Rather than adornments and design details, the style embraced raw construction materials, with reinforced concrete, brick, glass, steel and some rougher stone used such as in the form of gabions, usually used in sea walls to prevent coastal erosion.