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Does Postmodernism Exist Still in Architecture

Nov 9, 2007
What is architecture? What do we mean by Post-Modernism? Does Postmodernism still exist in architectural design? As Jameson suggests, "Postmodernism, by definition resists definition". If then postmodernism is difficult to be defined, on what principles can we judge if postmodernism in architecture is over?

Charles Jencks, among many architectural theorists, attempted to explain how postmodernism has shaped 21st Century's architectural creations. The words, syntax, metaphor, and semantics of architecture are part of what make architecture postmodern. Regionalism, historicism, new urbanism, these are flavors of the postmodern. Whereas Moore, Hedjuk, Yamashita, Tigerman, and Graves (to mention a few) are categorized as postmodern, in which group do contemporary architects like Santiago Calatrava belong?

Satiago Calatrava, Valencia's favorite son, a man who has merged architecture and engineering into designs and has occasionally transcended the limitations of both, uses an advanced postmodern vocabulary. But, are his manifestations considered postmodern, or something else? Graceful bridges, train stations, museums are mainly characterized by a white structure and the use of glass. Structures that often appear in motion and, as of late, often actually move.

The term "postmodernism" was first used in reference to architecture as early as 1947 spurring a fruitful debate among architects that has not yet disappeared. Postmodernism in its regional/vernacular forms reflects neighborhood culture. In this way, it can function as a tool in class struggle. Jameson argued that postmodernism is a reaction to the forces of "creative destruction." But it can be a tool for those powers as well. "Creative destruction," the wiping out of physical memory of a place is what probably causes the phenomenon Jameson refers to as the "accelerated rate of change". The end of the assembly line, created by the instant flexibility of computer technology, means that in this post-Fordist world we can all have a unique, neighborhood specific thing, as well as having the same thing.

All of these arguments are original and all of them can be successfully applied for the analysis of different contemporary cultural phenomena; some of these theories are better for the explanations of particular architectural phenomena, some for others. However, it would be wise for one to examine them all together in all their different perspectives as they can become a helpful tool for understanding the social and cultural phenomena that emerged from the second half of the Twentieth century on and still affect contemporary architects and their designs.
About the Author
Jonathon Hardcastle writes articles on many topics including Arts, Family , and Gardening
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