Postmodernism in Architecture: Top 10 Buildings

Postmodernism in architecture replaced the modern idea of simple, lifeless structures that eliminated culture and history from architecture. Individualism and experimentation hit the ground in the year 1970s and drew the name “Postmodern Architecture”.

Moreover, 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 architectural styles borrowed elements from history, mixed with strong strokes of lines, infused with vibrant colors allowed people to connect with their culture and tradition.

Main elements of Postmodernism in Architecture:

  • Contradiction
  • Asymmetry
  • Humour
  • Fragmentation
  • Complexity

To understand postmodernism in a better way, 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 colorful architecture. The plaza consists of yellow, ochre, and red colonnades, that represent the five “order of column” of the classical period. Moreover, it is one of the most prominent and well-known examples of postmodernism in architecture.

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

A yellow tower also got designed to provide direct access to the street. 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 also 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 design of Neue Staatsgalerie Museum focused on reviving the cultural influence in Stuttgart. The structure appears to be timeless due to the presence of traditional architectural elements. Modern materials and refreshing colors have also been featured strategically on the sloping site.

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

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

Except for the two tall buildings on each side of the site, the entire campus can be accessed using sloping walkways. Bright pink and blue steel railings mark the pathways for ease of access. The structure bestows its visitors with both, the 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. This structure came to reality in 1961. It features the concrete courthouse as its structural base. A local builder owns the Niklas Nyberg now. Architects designed the new structure in contrast to that of the old concrete block.

Also, the above structure drew inspiration from the art of recognized painter Bengt Lindstrom. The client was a collector of his works.

The building could be erected only by expanding the full width of the courtyard of the old courthouse. Moreover, it is the only point of connection between the two structures. The tall building is a metal structure with red, yellow, green, and white colors painted on it, one of the most recognizable characteristics of postmodernism in architecture

Moreover, without disturbing the old architecture, architects were able to add their playful artwork above.

04. Team Disney Building, Orlando

Architect: Arata Isozaki

This 900ft long corporate office for Disney came into being in the year 1991. The elevation of the buildings is a chaotic play of geometry and colors. It is one of the most renowned examples of postmodernism in architecture.

The structure drew inspiration from the shape of a wristwatch. Built out of dryvet, a type of styrofoam; the central part is actually a real sundial. Tennesse river rock surrounds the sundial.

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

The architect successfully created a sense of conflict and calmness, both through his 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

This is a museum of wine, and a luxurious hotel, surrounded by a beautiful green vineyard. Therefore, it has been planned in a way to appear to float smoothly, just like fine wine. However, it was possible only with the help of three super columns that support and uplift the structure.

Like many postmodernist architects, Frank Gehry’s 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 houses the museum collections from the 16th Century along with Contemporary Art.

The structure features various levels, from where all the art collections can be enjoyed by visitors. Therefore, three exhibition halls were connected by notch and recesses.

Being a house of art, the elevation of the structure features abstract art – random and chaotic. It also induces the feeling of an explosion of an artist’s palette, where all shapes got scattered and fixed randomly. It also reflects all the major characteristics of postmodernism in architecture beautifully.

The structure comprises double-wall steel plates with hardened glass that hardly meet each other. Some parts of its rooftop also 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 the history, and exploration of pop music and science fiction explodes with shimmering colors.

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

The structure seems like different parts of a guitar, springing out of trash, put together. 21,000 metal sheets with undulating folds envelope its exteriors.

Energetic colors like deep blue, hot pink, and silver beautifully make each smashed piece of guitar stand out. They also transmit energy into its surrounding, creating a vivid atmosphere for visitors.

08. Denver Art Museum – The Hamilton Building

Architect: Daniel Libeskind

This structure is 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 features 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 takes care of visual as well as sensory experience through its sharp-pointed triangular shape, material, and also its extraordinary range of lights and coloration.

09. Innet Hotel, Zaandam, Netherlands

Architect: WAM Architecten

The architect draws his 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 traditions of architecture.

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

The bay windows, fenestration, broad protruding sections, and the decorative white ridge-pieces and radiating colors add depth 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 automobile showroom featured the triumph of postmodern architecture in Tokyo in 1991. Moreover, The combination of modern and traditional architectural elements in this concrete structure altered the city’s landscape. However, currently, it serves as a funeral hall.

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. It also serves as an atrium with a glazed elevator shaft. The elevation of this structure drew criticism by few; whereas, some consider it as a brave move by the architect.