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Postmodernism

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If style names are to make any sense, historians are soon going to have to find an appellation other than ‘modern’ to categorise a broad stream of twentieth- century architecture which started to appear soon after Igoo. When ‘modern’ goes, presumably the Post-Modern style will also need a new label. On the face of it, the name tells us only that the style followed ‘modern’. This vagueness may have had advantages, at least temporarily: post-modernism was hardly a single-minded movement, and it strenuously avoided being so. While many architects were classified as post-modernists, only a few of them seemed to regard themselves as such.
The first manifestations of the style appeared in the 1970s. If Le Corbusier’s Towards a New Architecture was the bible of the modernist, then the post-modernist’s manifesto is Robert Venturi’s Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (1966). Venturi maintained that modern architecture became ‘a bore’ because of its singleness of purpose, its deliberate rejection of history, and its inability to respond to subtle environmental factors. Citing Las Vegas as an example, he also claimed that some twentieth-century urban and suburban environments hitherto despised by intellectuals were ‘almost all right’.
Some Post-Modern buildings made recognisable references or allusions to aspects of historical or vernacular architecture, usually with an ironic twist introduced by unexpected changes of scale or context. But most examples of the style simply relied on combinations of approved motifs such as the gently curving line, the stepped profile, the square window, the glazed barrel vault, the perforated screen, the free-standing colonnade, and the deliberate clash of incompatible geometries. Orthodox modernism’s demands for expressed structure and large areas of glass were often ignored. Decorative effects were introduced in a spirit of fun-loving hedonism, and pastel (‘gelato’) colours were used extensively. In the hands of its leading exponents, post-modernism was a sophisticated, witty and visually seductive game; for less erudite architects it frequently involved little more than juggling with fashionable shapes, a process that has occurred at many times in the past.
Late twentieth-century post-modernism in Australia showed no essential differences from its parent movements in America and Europe. Popular references were to Art Deco and to such aspects of the suburban vernacular as timber latticework and two-toned face brickwork. One of the style’s most encouraging attributes was a concern for the scale and character of the environment into which a new building was to be inserted.

Examples
No. 1 Collins Street, Collins and Spring Streets, Melbourne, Vic. Denton Corker Marshall Py Ltd, architects, 1984. A new development which takes its design keys from the old buildings out of which it has grown.
Fire station, Rokeby, Tas. Howroyd & Forward, architects, A colourful building intentionally resembling a child’s toy station.

Quoted from:
"A Pictorial Guide to Identifying Austrlian Architecture; Styles and Terms from 1788 to the Present"
RICHARD APPERLY, ROBERT IRVING, PETER REYNOLDS. PHOTOGRAPHS BY SOLOMON MITCHELL.
Angus & Robertson Sydney 1995 ISBN 0207 18562 X
Copyright © 1989 by Richard Apperly, Robert Irving and Peter Reynolds.

Hamless bit of fun- a bit of 80's po-mo at Wynyard Park.
 
Style Definition
Postmodern architecture is a counterreaction to the the strict and almost universal modernism of the mid-20th century. It reintroduces elements from historical building styles, although usually without their high level of detail. Common features include columns, pyramids, arches, obelisks, unusual or attention-getting shapes and rooflines, and combinations of stone and glass on the facade.

Postmodernism ranges from conservative imitations of classical architecture to flamboyant and playfully outrageous designs. As the style became mainstream, many buildings with a modern form assimilated postmodern devices into small parts of their designs.

Among the original and most prototypically postmodern architects, Michael Graves & Associates is famous for its colorful and entertaining designs in architecture and other products. The firm of Johnson/Burgee Architects has designed some of the style's best known buildings, with an extremely wide variety of forms. Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates is one of the most successful practices in history, with a portfolio of major postmodern buildings all over the world.


The breakdown of Modern (or Modernist) into component styles is a new phenomenon based on the concept that Modern as we know it today has its own internal history: beginning with the works of Louis Sullivan (the Condict Building on Bleeker Street) and Frank Lloyd Wright (best known here for his much later Guggenheim Museum); followed by Art Deco and Art Moderne and the Bauhaus and/or International Style as imported by Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (cf. the Seagram Building).

 
   
   

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