A Belgian graphic designer has published a brutalist colouring book

Mmmmm, beige. Image: Marc Thomasset.

What could possibly be more exciting than a brutalist colouring book? How about a Belgian brutalist colouring book?

“The Brutalist Colouring book” is, its author claims, the first colouring book “entirely dedicated to the poetry of concrete architecture”. It’s the work of Marc Thomasset, a Brussels-based graphic designer, who’s had 500 copies printed on recycled paper and is now inviting you to “sharpen your cold grey and warm grey pencils and add some colour to some great concrete constructions”.

I asked Marc why he’d produced this slightly unlikely volume, because you would, wouldn’t you? Here’s his response:

The Brutalist Colouring Book is, of course, intended for all brutalism architecture lovers, and is also I hope a way to help raise appreciation for this particular architecture style: the best known original brutalist buildings are still threatened with demolition.

I also asked him whether those you’d need any pencils that weren’t grey or, at a push, beige:

It is, of course, a more brutal style of colouring than most colouring books, but everybody is free to offer their interpretation. An Italian graphic designer send me a few pictures of his black and silver colouring of the pages, it was stunning. And the skies and trees offer many possibilities for bright colours to add some contrast. I love the wide palette concrete offers, especially when it has weathered a bit.

Here are some pictures. They'll expand if you click them:

The cover.

Look! Some green stuff!

Some brutalism in Brussels.

This one's in San Diego.

And that's Croatia.

If you fancy a copy of the first edition, you can buy them for €12.00 here. And if you are a graphic designer trying to promote your work through an unusual personal project very specifically targeted at the CityMetric audience, then please do feel free to get in touch.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter, far too much, as @jonnelledge.

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All pictures courtesy of Marc Thomasset.

 
 
 
 

The Delhi Metro: How do you build a transport system for 26m people?

Indraprastha station in 2006. Image: Getty.

“Thou hath not played rugby until thou hath tried to get onto a Delhi Metro in rush hour,” a wise Yogi once said.

If you’ve never been on New Delhi’s Metro, your mind might conjure up the the conventional image of Indian trains: tawdry carriages, buckets of sweat, people hanging out of windows and the odd holy cow wandering around for good measure.

Well, no. The Delhi Metro is actually one of the most marvellously sophisticated, affordable, timely, and practical public transportation systems out there. On a 45C day in the Indian summer, many a traveller has shed tears of joy on entering the spacious, air-conditioned carriages.

Above ground, Delhi is a sprawling metropolis of the scariest kind: 26m people, three times the population of London, churn and grind through Delhi itself.

The National Capital Region, an area which includes Delhi and its surrounding satellite cities – now victim of its never-ending urban sprawl – has an estimated population of almost 50m. So how do you tie such a huge population together?

The map; click to expand. Image: Delhi Metro Rail.

Motorised vehicles won’t do it alone. For one, air pollution is a horrific problem in Delhi, as it is across India. Last November, the government declared a state of emergency when the Indian capital was engulfed by a toxic, choking fog so thick that you could barely see several metres in front of you, drawing allusions to the great Victorian fogs in London.

Then there’s Delhi’s famous traffic. Twenty-five years ago, the travel writer William Dalrymple observed that you could reduce the Delhi’s road laws to one simple idea: the largest vehicle always had the right of way. The traffic has tamed somewhat in the 21st century, but the number of vehicles has multiplied again and again, and it’s not uncommon for people to be stuck in four-hour traffic jams when they try to traverse the mighty city.

Enter the Delhi Metro – a huge network of 164 over- and underground stations – and by any account, a titan of civil engineering and administration.

The numbers are simply colossal. Every day the metro serves on average almost 3m people. Annually, it carries around 1bn.

In a country where intercity trains still turn up a day late, the Delhi Metro is extraordinarily timely. On the major lines, trains will come every several minutes. The trains are extraordinary speedy, and you’ll reach your destination in a fraction of the time it would take for you to drive the distance.

The minimum fare is 10 rupees (12p); the maximum fare, to and from the airport, is 50 (60p).

The evolution of the metro. Image: Terramorphus/Wikimedia Commons.

Construction of the metro system began in 1998, with the first section completed in late 2002. Keen to avoid the catastrophic corruption and bureaucratic mismanagement which plagued eastern city of the Kolkata Metro, developers took advice from Hong Kong’s high-tech system There have been several stages of development to add extra lines; more is planned. By 2020, it is hoped that the 135 miles of line will have increased to over 300.  

One thing quite striking about the metro is its women’s only carriages at the rear and the front of the train, marked by pink signs. Sexual assault and harassment has been a horrific problem on Delhi’s transport systems. Women can of course go anywhere on the train – but men who violate the carriage system will have to deal with the scathing anger of the entire pink carriage.


One of the under-discussed impacts of widespread and well-used public transportation systems is their propensity to break down social and class barriers over time. As the London Tube began to be used more and more in early 20th century London, people from completely different walks of life and classes began to brush shoulders and share the same air.

The story is similar in Delhi. The necessity of the metro helps to break down old caste and class divisions. Of course, many elite Delhiites would not be seen dead on the metro, and choose their private chauffeur over brushing shoulders with the common man. But slowly and surely, the times are a changing.

What’s more, the Delhi Metro system is one of the greenest around. Six years ago, the Metro was the first railway system in the world to be awarded carbon credits from the United Nations for helping to reduce pollution in the capital by an estimated 640,000 tonnes every year.  

All praises sung and said, however, at peak times it’s less mind the gap and more mind your ribs – as a fifth of humanity seems to try to get on and off the train at once.

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