Thursday, March 26, 2009

Late-modern, Neo-modern, Super-modern Architecture

In spite of the popularity and success of the neo-classical and historicizing architecture, the modernist style has never been abandoned, as many architects continued to be led by its principles. Following the 1960s, these architects were sometimes labelled ‘late-modernists’ and, later, as ‘neo-modernists’ and ‘super-modernists’. However, in time and under new influences, modernism acquired new characteristics and therefore the modernist design began to differ more and more from the pre-1960s’ architecture.

Other labels, such as neo-minimalism, also appeared (Jodidio, 1998), in which the clear and simple lines of early modernism were evoked.

‘High-tech’ is recognized (by some) as having a style of its own. However, its elements can be present in all categories of new architecture.High-tech features are common in neo-modernism and deconstructivism, as for example at the Paris Pompidou Centre by Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano mentioned above. The use of high-tech elements is even more characteristic of the British Norman Foster and the Japanese Fumihiko Maki. Indeed, the conspicuous use of these elements may impart the appearance of an industrial product to a building. The buildings as industrial products become apparent in the aggressive, metallic coated ‘Dead Tech’ buildings of the Japanese Shin Takamatsu or Kazuo Shinohara’s more peaceful ‘zeromachines’ with a pure graphic architecture.

Georges Pompidou National Centre for Art and Culture, Paris, France, 1971–77, architects: Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano. A first realization of the idea of a ‘high-tech’, ‘cultural machine’ building; the external pipes painted in vivid colours, a staircase with a cylindrical plexiglas envelope, the overall boiler-house impression, open up a new approach in postmodernist architecture.

Modernism was characterized by an elimination of decoration and ornamentation. This resulted in the idea of ‘minimalism’ or ‘plainness’ (Zabalbeascoa and Marcos, 2000). This trend was preserved only to some extent in neo-modernism, which combined modernism with post-modernism, i.e. it did not altogether reject decoration and ornamentation although it did reject the historical forms.

Sebestyen, Gyula. 2003. New Architecture and Technology.

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