Postmodern Architecture – How Things Got Shifted

by | 11 April 2021

In the second half of the centuries, between the turn of the 60s to 70s, there had been a backlash against the modernism movement. Radicals at the decade saw the movement to be snobbish and elite-centric, which was no longer relatable to social issues. In response to that, Postmodernism was born. It emerged to run away from the traditional styles that some artists disdain. 

The context 

The idea that has arisen out of that was to make an art movement represent a cultural shift to urbanization. It was at the time when globalization was starting to emerge, attributed to the fact that the Cold War has just ended. It was when America had secured its position to be the only superpower. It was also at the time when the corporate sphere was starting to be solidified as an imperative element to establish and maintain power. It was when a new period was starting to take place in a new direction of art, architecture, and culture. All these emerging trends spurned Postmodernism.  

The advocates of this movement looked at the old form to be dull and no longer timely. They wanted something more human, vibrant, and perky. 

Society back then was stepping into a new ground that was more liberal, more prosperous, and more flexible. (After all, the US was just celebrating its victory from the Cold War.) It was a movement that was making its way to pop culture. It emanated in the US, spread to Europe and Asia eventually. To this day, styles from this period remain popular. 

The architects have a lot more room to express and to create meaning for their masterpieces. Rules were nothing and were simply an obsolete decoration of this movement’s predecessors. 

The hallmark characteristics of Postmodernism

This movement’s context is represented by five key elements: colors, textures, structure, shapes, and humor. One will find architecture and other visual arts that were born in this era to have bright, pastel, neon, and vivid colors. These colors are evident both outside and inside of the structure. However, the colors that were paired for inside and outside are polar opposite to create a stark contrast. Commonly it’s the glass surface that goes on the outside, while the inside helms the primary colors. 

The textures may somewhat diverge from your expectation. They are made intentionally rough, not plain and smooth. It’s no surprise to find one that looks like wood or fur. 

The textures are intended to make you feel a building differently and associate that with something else. Not only that, but it’s also common to mix and match different textures and create different layers. 

Another characteristic that one may not simply overlook would be the structural textures of the movement’s architecture. Buildings are rather complexes, instead of one single block that vertically arises. Buildings are often sets of smaller structures of varied height, pooled together. Architects and artists would often make each structure deliberately unique from the other. 

In addition to the structural nature, the asymmetrical shapes are another key-defining feature of a postmodernism output. It runs in the same vein of making each as unique-looking as possible. Hence, exaggeration of some of the elements of the building isn’t uncommon. 

The goal here is to make an object to be as striking as possible and not the most elegant and beautiful in the crowd. An object is designed to stand out, be attention-seeking, and create a mark independently. It’s the pure opposite of what you imagine a conservativism art piece would be. 

Postmodernism doesn’t care if a piece looks good or not. It deliberately ignores the old rules. As long as it’s loud and can attract attention or get one to stare at it, it falls under Postmodernism. It veers away from sternness, delicateness, and seriousness. Postmodernism is embodied humor. The architecture is always supposed to be hilarious and not sophisticated and snobbish. (After all, it was born to become more relatable to the common people and not the higher classes.) So, even if it’s ugly, it’s still an art. 

If you happen to spot one that looks far too quirky than the traditional architecture you have been accustomed to, it might be a postmodernist piece of art. 

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