Brutal London by Zupagrafika

The design studio preserves some of the city's iconic Brutalist buildings like Balfron Tower in paper form


Paper models of buildings and animals are some of the most simple and classic children’s toys. But turning something 2D into a 3D sculpture never gets boring—and when you combine the DIY factor with interesting designs, you have the recipe for Brutal London, the latest product from Poland’s Zupagrafika. The Hispano-Polish design studio consists of Martyna Sobecka and David Navarro and is based in Poznań, Poland.


There’s currently plenty of fascinating design coming from Poland, like we witnessed at Tent London last year. Zupagrafika’s paper models are the second set in a series that started with “Eastern Bloc,” which was inspired by Warsaw modernist architecture. Brutalist architecture might be more commonly associated with the former Soviet states, but London has plenty of fine examples of the oft-derided architecture. Zupagrafika’s models include the Balfron Tower and Space House tower blocks, as well as Robin Hood Gardens and the Aylesbury and Ledbury Estates.


“In 2014 we took part in London Design Week Festival where we were displaying our previous cut-out collection ‘Eastern Block.’ We decided then to have a closer look at London’s brutalist icons, such as Balfron Tower, as well as some council estates similar to the ones we get in Poland, and we discovered the ones we planned to visit—Heygate and Aylesbury—were already either partially or entirely demolished. It led us to think we should catalog them before they disappear. The whole collection is a brutalist tour similar to the ones we went on during our numerous visits to London,” Martyna Sobecka says.


The designers also took the time to talk to the residents of the buildings and, in some cases, got them to pose with the finished product, illustrating how lifelike the models really are. “As the process of documentation of all the buildings took some time, the residents at first were a bit puzzled by us taking countless photos and carefully studying the façade; however, with time, they seemed to have got used to our being around, some of them even approaching and asking about the project. We got some positive feedback, and hope they get to see and like the outcome,” Sobecka concludes.


The models have all the detailing of the actual buildings, down to the graffiti on the façade of Robin Hood Gardens and the “Demolition in progress: Keep out” sign that mars the exterior of the Aylesbury Estate. It’s a stark reminder that soon the models might be all that remains of these iconic buildings.

Zupagrafika will continue to make paper block collections and have a new one coming up this year. Brutal London paper-cuts are available for €5 each at their webshop Zupamarket.

Images courtesy of Zupagrafika