Postmodern Architecture Essay Example



From this combination of styles, Postmodern architecture was able develop its own defining characteristics. Some of these characteristics include straying away from the rigid rules of modernism, having no strict use of materials, creating homes that honor local history and culture, asymmetry that captures the viewers attention, fragmentation, complexity of colors and textures, and even humor (4). With such variety and ambiguity, postmodernism may seem very hard to define, and may even seem as if it isn’t worthy of claiming its own distinct style. However, this is exactly what the pioneers of the movement wanted; to create a style that escaped the rules of previous architectural movements and to create something that had truly never been seen before.

One of the primary reasons that postmodern architecture has been so successful and continues to be used today is because of the pioneers of the movement. Throughout its history postmodernism has been attacked for its controversial visual appeal. If it were not for the early architects who were bold enough to experiment with postmodern design, and thus establish it as a recognizable style through their work, postmodern architecture could have easily failed or been short lived as a movement. Some of these architects include Michael Graves, “one of the most celebrated architects and designers of the 20th century” (5), Charles Moore, Phillip Johnson, “From his early modern structures to his later postmodern buildings, Johnson defined several architectural movements over the course of his decades-long career” (6), Robert Venturi, and most notably Frank Gehry who has become one of the most famous and influential architects in modern times through his postmodern inspired works. Although these architects garnered a lot of controversy with their bold designs, they still brought attention to the postmodern movement and are responsible for making it what it is today. 

All of the design theory and characteristics of postmodernism mentioned so far are great on their own; however the question becomes whether when applied to the residential setting, does postmodernism amount to a place that feels like home? One of the main criticisms of modernist homes is that they can sometimes feel cold. Although they may have very sleek, simple, and forward thinking designs, sometimes these aspects can lead to a home that does not feel comfortable, and may not be suitable for raising a family. As a reaction to modernism, postmodernism looks to address this issue. In an interview with a young couple who recently moved into a postmodern home in London, The Modern House Journal asked what it was like to live in the house; here are some of the things they said, “‘We really wanted to find something spatially unique. We wanted to have a lot of lateral space and we also wanted a house that didn’t look dull… The outside can feel like a bit of a fortress, very mysterious. People are really intrigued by what’s inside and the truth is that it’s so warm, comfortable, and luminous… During autumn and winter, we don’t feel so weighed down by the weather because the house is so bright and so much warmth that we just love to be inside” (7). As evidenced by what this couple said, a postmodern home does not feel cold; in fact, it is quite the opposite. By purchasing their postmodern home, this couple was able to find a truly unique home. In terms of appearance, space, lifestyle, and design, their home stands out from the crowd while still maintaining a comfortable feel. Obviously this is just one example, however, the characteristics of postmodern architecture allow any postmodern home to share the positive aspects enjoyed by this couple. 

The long-lasting success of the postmodern architecture movement can be attributed to the movement’s humble origins; which saw a bold group of architects begin experimenting with postmodern design, and allowed for the style to grow into a set of distinct characteristics that have set postmodern architecture apart from other styles and made it a sought after design technique in the residential setting. Postmodernism continues to have many critics, and maybe some of these critics are right in their judgement. However, there is no denying the fact that postmodern design deserves credit for its uniqueness, and perhaps its ability to stir up controversy should be seen as a point of praise, not disapproval.