Postmodern, Post-modernism, Post Modern

title image


Post-modernism is a distinctive style recognised from the 1960’s (it’s origin date is a point of debate) to the 1990’s, with its dominance in the 1970’s to 1990’s.    In 1966 Robert Venturi describes post-modernism in his book “Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture” and built his mother a post-modern house, Vanna Venturi House. 

 Vanna Venturi house


The short life span was due to the “outside the box style”, and most found it confusing and ugly.

To define the style is a contradiction to its existence as it is based on questioning or rejecting the authoritarian constraints of Modernism.  In order to simplify Post-modernism, I have narrowed it down to three broad aspects:

1)            Be free.  Not to follow the constraints set down by any one doctrine, to question and accept differences.   Take a look at some of the philosophy of post-modernism:

that truth and error run together, that the notion of truth is used to gain and control power;

Religion is constraining and moralistic, doesn’t hold to the idea of one god, but many gods, and that morality is each’s individual code;

there is no need for international boundaries but rather internationalism and unity;

doesn’t define right or wrong.

In saying that, the style does use characteristics of earlier styles and conventions in its design, such as Art Deco.


                     Mauser Desk from 1930  Source        Postmodern desk with wave corner 1980’s Source



     1920’s daybed recliners  Source                                   1981 Marco Zaninin sofa   Source

2)            Breaking down the boundaries.  As mentioned, not to stay within set doctrines or believes, but to embrace and mix.  In design style this has been carried across to disregarding the distinction between ‘high culture’ and ‘mass popular culture’.  To blend the boundary between life and art.

3)              To embrace nature.  Although Post-modernism moves away from a One God belief to many, it focuses more on ‘Mother Nature’, naturalism and evolution.  One of the principles of post-modern architecture is to fit in with the community it is building into, but it is not a copy, but rather sympathetic to it.

thronrown chapel inside

Throncrown Chapel in Arkansas from the inside    Source

Thorncrown chapel in day

Thorncrown Chapel blends with its surroundings     Source


Post-modern architecture is quite distinctive in form, shape and colour.  The aim is to be funny, warm and engaging.  Unfortunately, for many this has not been embraced, but is rather seen as messy, vague, ugly, superficial.  It is this attitude that has caused post-modernism to fall into decline.

The National Australian Museum 1997



The National Museum of Australia on Acton Peninsula. Photo: George Serras.

 NAM inside

The Museum Hall. Photo: John Golling

More about the building

View more photos of the Museum building on Flickr

audio_w15Listen to Sue Dove talk about the design inspirations behind Museum building

Federation Square Melbourne 1997

 federation square at nigth

Federation Square at night compliments the street scape   Source

 federation square

Corner Flinders and Swanston Street Melbourne    Source

 fesreation square atrium

Inside the Atrium at Federation Square    Source

The Walt Disney Company 1985

Disney buildings


 disney building front


Frank Gehry’s “Fred and Ginger” building, Prague  1994

 gehry prague


 Post-modernism is considered dead.  Here in South Australia, the South Australia Medical Research Institute has finally finished construction.


SAHMR sunset


 SAHMR inside

Inside the SAHMR center.    Source

 So Post-modernism is still happening, maybe just learning from its own mistakes!

Read my Blog on “Post Modernism Dead – Really!”





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