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An architecture that replaced the modern idea of simple, lifeless structures, that eliminated culture and history of its existence by individualism and experimentation, hit the ground in the year 1970 was referred to as ‘postmodern architecture’.

Postmodernism in architecture gave architects the right to play with the structures and reveal their art that could capture emotions. Moreover, Postmodern architecture with the fusion of many architecture styles borrowed from the past mixed with strong strokes of lines, infused with vibrant colours allowed people to connect with their culture and tradition.

Main postmodernism architecture characteristics:

  • Contradiction
  • Asymmetry
  • Humour
  • Fragmentation
  • Complexity

To understand postmodernism in architecture, let’s study some of the structures that authentically follow this style of architecture.

01. Piazza d’Italia, New Orleans

Architect: Charles Moore

A public plaza and a memorial designed for people to experience Italian culture through colourful architecture. The plaza consists of yellow, ochre, and red colonnades, that represent the five ‘order of column’ of the classical period. It is also one of the most prominent and well known postmodern architecture examples.

The engraved Latin scripts arched doorways with Moore’s face on both the cartouches adds humour to the dynamic environment.

Also, to provide direct access to the street, a yellow tower was designed. All this, placed in the curving formation around the cascade, made by black and white stone contours, lit by fluorescent lights, resembles the topography of Italy.

Moore’s Plaza d’Italia gates its visitors in the space of cultural gathering that stands on the radiating pattern of cobblestone and bands of granite pavers.

02. Neue Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart, Germany

Architect: James Stirling

The Neue Staatsgalerie Museum was designed to revive the cultural influence in Stuttgart. The structure appears to be timeless due to the presence of traditional architectural elements. Modern materials and refreshing colours have been strategically placed on a sloping site.

This museum welcomes people with a blue coloured steel trellis with glass roof and two orange cylindrical swing doors. It opens into an area that is covered with green colour rubble flooring and huge curved steel components.

At the center, an atrium was designed including elements such as gables, columns, architraves using travertine and sandstone. The core of the museum homes old traditional architecture concerning the art and design of the 19th century.

Except for the two tall buildings that stand on each side of the site, the rest of the structures are accessed using sloping walkways. They have been denoted by bright pink and blue steel railings.

The structure bestows its visitors with both past and future of architecture.

03. Ting1 in Ornsköldsvik, Sweden

Architects: Gert Wingardh, Fredrick Lyth

Ting1 is one of the most unique residential projects in Sweden. The structure with concrete courthouse as a base was built-in 1961, which is now owned Niklas Nyberg, a local builder. Architects designed the new structure in contrast to that of the old concrete block.

Also, the above structure was inspired by the art of recognized painter Bengt Lindstrom whose artwork was collected by the client.

The building erected was by expanding the full width of the courtyard of the old courthouse. It was the only point of connection between the two structures. The tall building is a metal structure of red, yellow, green, and white colours painted on it, one of the most recognizable postmodern architecture characteristics.

Moreover, without disturbing the old architecture of 1961, architects have added their playful artwork above.

04. Team Disney Building, Orlando

Architect: Arata Isozaki

This 900ft long corporate office for Disney was built in the year 1991. The elevation of the buildings is a chaotic play of geometry and colours. It is one of the most renowned postmodern architecture examples.

The structure was designed in the shape of a wristwatch. The central part is a real sundial built out of dryvet, a type of styrofoam. The sundial is surrounded by Tennesse river rock.

The interior of the structure defines the transition from the outside chaotic geometry to a calm, quiet space where the use of colours is harmonized.

The architect successfully created a sense of conflict and calmness both through its structure. Here, the outside chaos was left behind and the inside working space provided a sense of calmness.

05. City of Wine Complex Marques De Riscal Hotel, Spain

Architect: Frank O. Gehry

A museum of wine and a luxurious hotel surrounded by a beautiful green vineyard. Therefore, it has been planned in such a way that it appears to float smoothly, just like wine, with the help of three super columns that support and uplift the structure.

Like many postmodernist architects, Frank Gehry design parade respect to the architecture of the 19th century, as well as new architecture, with free-flowing elements.

The structure has two different forms:

  • More than twenty different titanium canopies form the front skin of the structure. It is hung over a series of giant square sandstone blocks.
  • The bright pink colour used for the front skin, inspired by the colour of wine, gives life to the structure when the sun strikes its surface, creating high ambient. While the stone façade and wooden windows create a language reflecting the traditional environment.

06. Groninger Museum – The East Pavilion, Netherlands

Architect: Wolfgang Prix and Pole Helmut Swiczinsky, jointly known as Coop Himmelb(l)au

This structure was planned to house the museum collections from the 16th Century along with Contemporary Art.

The main aim was to achieve different levels, from where all the art collections can be enjoyed by visitors. Therefore, was created by connecting three exhibition halls by notch and recesses.

Being a house of art, for the elevation of the structure was created using abstract art – random and chaotic. It gives the feeling as if a bomb of artist stokes was exploded and developed into shapes than fixed randomly. It all reflects the major postmodern architecture characteristics beautifully.

The structure comprises of double-wall steel plates with hardened glass that hardly meet each other. Some parts of its rooftop stretch out over the water surrounding the structure, inviting the entire city to the museum.

Moreover, using deconstructivism, the architects tried putting emotions into their structure- where walls can be celling, a window or a floor. 

07. Museum of Pop Culture, Seattle, Washington DC

Architect: Frank O. Gehry

The 140,000 sq.ft. museum, dedicated to history and exploration of pop music and science fiction explodes with shimmering colours.

While designing this structure, Frank Gehry followed the concept of a smashed electric guitar.

The structure seems as if different cut guitars, that sprung out of the trash bin are put together. Further, which are enveloped by 21,000 metal sheets with undulating folds.

Also, each smashed piece of the guitar is painted with energetic colours like deep blue, hot pink, and silver. They transmit energy into its surrounding, creating a vivid atmosphere for visitors.

 

08. Denver Art Museum – The Hamilton Building

Architect: Daniel Libeskind

This structure was built as an extension of the old Denver museum. The museum seamlessly forms a connection with its surroundings, the sky as well as the Rocky mountains around.

The outline of the museum was designed using sloping planes and complex geometry, rising from the earth itself, just like the mountains.  The structure is constructed using steel, with titanium covering.

The Hamilton Building consists of no vertical walls except its service core. Moreover, there are nearly 20 sloping planes, none parallel or perpendicular to each other. With the help of uncanny geometry, Daniel efficiently forms an emotional, as well as an intellectual connection, with the people visiting the structure.

This structure looks after visual as well as sensory experience through its sharp-pointed triangular shape, material, and also its extraordinary range of lights and colouration.

 

09. Innet Hotel, Zaandam, Netherlands

Architect: WAM Architecten

The architect draws its inspiration for this structure from the iconic green building of the Zaan region. Also, this 40 meters tall building is a tribute to the past and present tradition of architecture.

The hotel is actually a stack of seventy little houses, made of timber and Eternit fibre cement cladding. With this, the architect tried to add emotions into his architecture.

The bay windows, fenestration, broad protruding sections and the decorative white ridge-pieces and raditation colour adds dept to the entire façade of the structure.

With the fusion of tradition and innovation, the building is able to makes direct connect with the surrounding as well as the people.

10. M2 Building, Tokyo

Architect: Kengo Kuma

This 1991 triumph of postmodern architecture in Tokyo was built as an automobile showroom. However, currently, it serves as a funeral hall. The combination of modern and traditional architectural elements in this concrete structure altered the city’s landscape.

Elements like corbels, triglyphs, dentils, and arches, combined with glass curtain walls, topped by panels formed the uncanny façade of this structure.

The iconic column at the center separates the façade into two parts. Also, it serves as an atrium with the glazed elevator shaft. The elevation of this structure was criticized by few, whereas, some consider it as a brave move by the architect.

Avani Shah

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