'Cats of Brutalism' Goes Wild!

Fetching felines give Brutalist architecture second chance with flirtatious poses galore
Fridays on the Homefront
Here comes a hilarious new wave of feline delight—juxtaposing warm and fuzzy cats with cold, hard concrete. It's called 'Cats of Brutalism,' courtesy of three enterprising architecture students from Buffalo, New York. Above: Saijo Municipal Gymnasium in Saijo, Japan. All photos courtesy 'Cats of Brutalism'

Illustrator extraordinaire Shag initially set the stage with his feline-crazed front cover for the fall '21 CA-Modern magazine, and our own Dave Weinstein joined in to underscore the theme with his mid-century modern-laced tale, 'Sophisticats.'

Cats rock, they both agree—'purrfect' players when introduced as decorative props in artful scenes portraying the MCM aesthetic.

Since then, we've been bowled over once again by yet another wave of feline delight—with the hilarious 'Cats of Brutalism,' courtesy of three enterprising architecture students on the East Coast.

With their motto of 'your daily dose of cats and concrete,' Cats of Brutalism has become a darling of the social media world, warming up the starkness of Brutalist architecture with daily Instagram posts featuring images of sinuous cats posing inside, around, and on top of classic—though classically unpopular—Brutalist architecture.

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St. Mary's Cathedral - San Francisco, California
 

What a brilliant idea!

"We chose cats as something a bit ironic, because when you think about cats, you think about these cuddly, soft animals. But when you think of Brutalism buildings, you think hard, cold concrete," explains Michaela Senay, one of three Masters of Architecture students at University at Buffalo who first started up the Instagram page back in 2020.

The success of the Cats of Brutalism account has taken all three of the students—and likely the rest of the world too—by surprise. "It definitely took off," Senay says. "We just celebrated our one-year anniversary. We hit 100,000 [followers]…and that was cool to see."

The page was born when Senay and fellow architecture students Emily Battaglia and Madelaine Ong, in collaboration with professors Gregory Delaney and Brett Doster of UB, launched a student project advocating for Brutalist architecture. Searching for a creative way to address the challenge, the group set out to focus on the architectural style, period, and its associations, while adding a social commentary component that would engage the public.

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Confluence Park River Pavilion - San Antonio, Texas
 

"The three of us…were all trying to come up with an idea," Senay says. "I thought about my own cat…and thought 'why don't we try Photoshopping cats with the buildings?'"

The group was initially focused solely on the history and future of the Earl W. Brydges Public Library, in Niagara Falls, a Brutalist building designed in 1969 by architect Paul Rudolph located near their campus. But as they delved into researching Brutalist architecture, they concluded that the style in general was rather unloved and underrepresented, and that perhaps a connection could be made with the world at large.

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Enterprising creators of 'Cats of Brutalism': (L-R) Michaela Senay, Emily Battaglia, and Madelaine Ong.