Ornament, color, references to past and contemporary forms, reproducibility all meet in the architectural movement which by the 1970s had become well established.
Here are a few examples of buildings and architectural thinkers of the time.
Piazza d’Italia, New Orleans – Charles W. Moore
Architectural historian, Allen Freeman describes Moore’s Piazza d’Italia as a cocktail “made of questionable ingredients.” It was completed in the late 70′s to provide a space for the Italian community of downtown New Orleans. The square and building is a colorful homage to several specific buildings as well as architectural styles especially of the Italian Renaissance. But Moore is able to squeeze in some modernist motifs as well. Incontrast with the modernist rejection of color and ornament, Moore’s columns go through all the orders (even the fascist one), the square is at once a Piazza, a portico, a building. A mix of styles, perhaps for a mixed community?
Strada Novissima, The Presence of the Past, 1980. Venice Biennale, Hans Hollein
Hollein intended to create a ‘street of styles’, where the history of architecture was represented in each column from the classic Greek and Roman to the modernist skyscraper. Hollein plays with styles, colors, materials and technologies. You observe plants, neon signs cement and marble all in the same construction, yet somehow it feels so familiar.
Superstudio was a group of Florentine architects that became famous in the 1970s after participating in a show at MOMA in New York. They imagined and designed the world of the future along dystopic lines. It was a world where a single cement-like surface/building circled the entirety of the globe, blending with cities and nature alike. It is unclear what they intended to express through their designs, however the pessimistic tone of the cement ‘blob’ is difficult to ignore.
Archigram was a London based studio that emerged around the same time as Superstudio. They created an architectural manifesto, which encouraged the young architectural community to build with the benefit of modern technology which allowed for cheap reproducible architecture. Like Superstudio, Archigram looked toward the futire, however they seemed to embrace technologies and materials of the future without being critical of it.
Hollein and Moore build the future out of an immortal past, pay hommage to it whilst perhaps extending it in time. Or was it a funeral of the past, one that the modernist architects did not even grant the architectures that preceded them? I’m not sure. Superstudio, instead seems to be about death through technology. Archigram about buildings that are temporary, because they can always be re-built. Perhaps mortality and immortality are the themes of postmodern architecture?
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