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Modernism to Postmodernism in architecture- a genesis. Illustrate your essay with specific examples.

Postmodernism implies 'beyond modernism' or 'after modernism' and therefore should be understood only in the context of that which preceded it. Postmodernism emerged when people could no longer accept the earlier universally held beliefs of progress ad defined by science and rationality, a world view prevalent since the Enlightenment. It was expressed, "with incredulity towards our cultural meta-narratives." (Shawver, 2007)

The Genesis for Change

The period of prosperity after the Second World War was also a period of cultural and intellectual disillusionment. The promise of an ideal society, of a utopian future, believed in by the many manifestos that emerged between the wars went unrealized. The world was not necessarily a better place just a more confused one. Worldviews governed by rationalism and sciences were pitted against the realities of corporate machinations, political posturing and media makeovers.


Critics like Kenneth Frampton have systematically disapproved of the icons of postmodernism, although acknowledging that it was "an understandable reaction to the pressures of societal modernization." Postmodern architecture has been derided as pastiche and kitsch and has remained to many a stylistic phenomenon, a "conscious ruination of style and cannibalization of architectural form" where architecture was "a package deal arranged by the builder developer that determines the carcass (of the built form)" (Frampton 1992, p. 306-307).

In conclusion then, postmodernism does not replace modernist meta-narratives with other meta-narratives (Shawver, 2007). Frampton himself offers an alternative- Critical regionalism, whose architecture "stresses the site specific and yet refuses to abandon the emancipatory and progressive aspects of the modern architectural legacy while distancing from the naïve utopianism, and is opposed to the sentimental simulation of the local vernacular. (Frampton 1992, p. 327). Thus, by discarding "grand narratives" and focusing on specific local goals, postmodernism offers a way to theorize local situations as fluid and unpredictable, though influenced by global trends (Klages 2003).

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