Post Modernism In Architecture

A break free from the regular monotonous structures, from the ordinary ideas, and the regular rigid designs is what we’re looking at today. For all you colorful, cheerful readers out there, this one’s for you. Post modernism, the name in itself explains the occurrence of this event. As its name suggests it is the reaction to the movement Modernism. Dated back in the 1970’s is when this architectural movement came into play and yet continues to be in form even today with its vibrancy, playful, eclectic and decorative style. If you aren’t yet intrigued by this architectural movement then fasten up as further, we will witness eye catching and whimsical structures that you may not come across in your daily life.

Humor, Dolphin Hotel In Disney World

Robert Venturi known as the father of Post modernism is famous for his saying ‘Less is a bore’. The saying ‘Less is a bore’ has the ability to carry the entire Post modernism movement. It simply implies how the world had seen enough rigid, cubical, straight, simple structures which in return appears boring to the human eye. The Architect Robert Venturi rejected such ideologies and came up with eclectic, colorful and inclusive designs that embraced the community value. He first gained acclaim as writer with his, “Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture” book which emphasizes that designs should reflect on the changing times and social needs while attaining complexity that one can actually gage something out of.

Robert Venturi


Post modernism aimed to be an inclusive style that incorporated various design elements, principals, styles into one single unified structure tearing down the boundaries created between styles hence rejecting the formal nature of other architectural movements that have been in play. Post Modernism might look like a bizarre ideology but isn’t that strenuous to accomplish. Here are a few characteristics that are a part of post modernism which makes this movement what it is.


1.      Decorative elements

2.      Asymmetry

3.      Curved forms

4.      Bright colors

5.      Borrowed features from earlier periods

6.      Variety of material and shapes

7.      Complexity

8.      Fragmentation

1.      Decorative elements

Post Modern structures use decorative elements that make the structure look complex, this helps easily break away the one DON’T’s in post modernism that is building simple looking structures. The structures are highly ornamented thereby increasing the value of the building.

Piazza D’Italia, New Orleans

2.      Asymmetry

The most common and the trademark of Post modernism are their Abstract forms. Simply breaking away from the regular symmetrical structures and monotonous behaviours, post modernism can be achieved. Leaning, Curved and abstract looking structures have their own sense of individuality and with great ease will make a structure stand out even in a crowded space with rather simple structures. Very rarely will one find a post-modern structure symmetric which is what makes this characteristic in demand. Break away from the law and order in order to get being a post-modernist.

Groninger Museum, Netherlands

3.      Curved Forms

Derived from asymmetry comes curved forms. Curved forms give off traces of complexity and contradiction to other structures. Creating Oblique structures might be a task but if accomplished well, the structure might even look like its falling but will be one of the strongest to exist. Curved forms is the very first thought in our minds when told to avoid simple and straight structures.

4.      Colors

Colors play a very important role in architecture. The use of color can make or mar a building. Often, we come across structures with subtle and basic colors to keep it simple. However, in post modernism the exact opposite is done to achieve what it aims for. Color gives the façade an identity and a personality. Having a variety in these is what this characteristic talks off. Vibrant cheerful and multi colors is usually what’s seen in postmodern architecture.

Museum Garage, Florida

5.      Borrowed features from earlier periods

After coming this far, you must’ve realised that post modernism is not an original or fresh concept, it comes from the cumulation and ideologies of various different periods and styles coming together to form one art style. Post modernism Takes its inspiration and borrows elements from styles such as Rococo, Classism, British arts and craft movements, Neo classical structures and so on.

M2 Building, Tokyo

6.      Shapes and materials

Similar to the other characteristics, post modernism uses varied shapes for its design and doesn’t stick to using one shape throughout. They are shaped and sized to make a structure look complex but catching the eye. The materials used in post modernism are

Coloured glass, Stone, ceramic tiles on the external façade which satisfies the characteristics of post modernism.  Architects’ values sculpted forms over clean lined structures hence having varied shapes and materials is what struck the architects minds.

A house for Essex, Essex

7.      Complexity

‘Less is a bore’ states how the architects weren’t happy with nominal structures. Complex structures that intrigue the user’s eye is what they usually aimed for. Hence structures at angles, cut outs and smaller pieces that come together to form one large structure is what this characteristic talks of.

Hotel Zaandam, Amsterdam

8.      Fragmentation

Talking about smaller pieces from the previous characteristic, fragmentation is where this movements breaks a large structure into smaller pieces or elements, or into various structures or forms. Each of those could gave a specific function  to it which what makes it stand out. With this, one structure can give off the feeling of a town or village.

Guggenheim Museum by Frank Gehry

Now that you’re all caught up about the characteristics, lets take a look at the names of few famous Post modernist architects.

1.      Ar. Charles Moore

2.      Ar. Terry Farel

3.      Ar. Robert Venturi

4.      Ar. Frank Gehry

5.      Ar. James Stirling

6.      Ar. Philip Johnson

7.      Ar. Ricardo Bowfill

8.      Ar. Joel Bergman

Case studies

Ting 1 by Wingårdh Arkitektkontor

Ting 1 by Gert Wingardh

Architect- Gert Wingardh

Built in- 2013

Location- Sweden

Type- Multi Family residence

Material- Reinforced Concrete

Characteristics seen-  

  • The structure shoes complexity in the design
  • The structure is colourful and shows vibrancy and its brightness stands out.
  • Asymmetry is seen on the facade of this building
  • The parts of the building looks like small fragments coming together to form the building.

Dancing House

The Dancing House by Frank Gehry

Architect- Vlado Milunić and Frank Gehry

Built in- 1992-1996

Location- Prague, Czech Republic


  • Resembles a pair of dancers.
  • Curved, Unusual and oblique structure.
  • Abstract in nature, break away from linearity.
  • Use of colored glass for the facade.
  • Varied materials and sizes fragmented.
  • Complex in nature.

It is said as long as the building can stand and give guarantee about its function, anything including an unusual combination of bright and varied colors, asymmetrical shapes and different sizes, a variety of materials, and mashed styles can be claimed as a good design. If your design embraces individualism and is an outcome of experimentation, there you go you’re one step close to being a post modern designer.

Post Modernism In Architecture