Postmodern Architecture: Are You a Fan or a Foe?

A new book from Phaidon highlights the sometimes divisive, sometimes beloved architecture trend of postmodernism. Tour some of the wackiest postmodern buildings in the world with HGTV.

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March 16, 2020

Photo By: Phaidon

Photo By: Elizabeth Daniels

©Tord-Rikard Söderström

Photo By: Industry City

Photo By: Aida Doi Architects

©Jack Hobhouse

Photo By: wakiiii

Photo By: Dirk Altenkirch

Photo By: Simone Mengani

Photo By: Norman McGrath

A Pop of Postmodern

One of the 20th century's most divisive architectural trends, postmodernism is the ultimate mash-up style featuring bright colors, classical forms with a modern twist and an undeniable sense of playfulness from big name proponents like Michael Graves, Ettore Sottsass and Robert Stern. Read on for some of our fave examples of this eclectic style. With tongue-firmly-in-cheek, this fun picture book from Phaidon, Postmodern Architecture: Less is a Bore, features more than 200 postmodern buildings around the world and recounts how these architectural "atrocities and abominations" and "affronts to human dignity" (as one member of the public described them in a letter to the press) have inspired and incensed.

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Binoculars Building

One of the most famous postmodern buildings in the world, the Chiat/Day Building (also called the "Binoculars Building") is part of Google's headquarters in the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles. It was created by starchitect Frank Gehry and artists Claes Oldenberg and Coosje van Bruggen.

Sweden's Ting 1

Located in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden, Ting 1, designed by Wingårdh Arkitektkontor, features 51 apartments atop an old courthouse. It's the ultimate postmodern mashup, with an older 1967 building capped by a uniquely colorful new addition whose stacked squares are inspired by hashtags.

A Postmodern Mural

Located in Brooklyn, New York, this animated-looking building is actually a mural created by London artist Camille Walala to reinvigorate the existing building. See the fascinating step-by-step for this project here.

Toy Block House

A prime example of the kind of wit that can define postmodernism, architect Takefumi Aida's Toy Block House IV in Tokyo is part of a series of Toy Block Houses he designed to look like they were created with children's blocks.

High Whimsy in Essex, England

London architects FAT, working with artist Grayson Perry, created this whimsical home inspired by fairy tales and meant to evoke follies and lighthouses, on the East Coast of England. Perry created one-of-a-kind artworks to hang in the interior as well as the green tiles on the home's exterior and the figurative shapes placed on the roofline, which were all designed by Perry.

A Fascinating Collage in Japan

The first commission for the renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, the M2 Building in Tokyo was originally designed as a Mazda sales room but is now used as a funeral hall.

Meow House

This kindergarten in Karlsruhe, Germany, demonstrates the element of imagination and fun often involved in postmodern design. Children enter the school through the cat's "mouth," and the cat's "tail" on the back of the building doubles as a slide.

A Swiss Church

Swiss architects Mario Campi and Franco Pessina designed this Church of Our Lady of Fatima in Giova, Switzerland.

Postmodern Poolscape

This private residence and pool house in Llewellyn Park, New Jersey, was designed in 1982 by renowned architect Robert A.M. Stern. The gated community also features private homes designed by other notable architects including Alexander Jackson Davis, Calvert Vaux and Stanford White.

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