21 November 2011

Postmodernism: Style over substance

Postmodernism is renowned for its extravagant aestheticism, irregular beauty and unashamed devotion to style over substance. This overtly conspicuous movement is currently being celebrated in the V&A Museum exhibition, Postmodernism: Style and Subversion. Postmodernism was a brassy creative pastiche, plundering and pillaging art movements of the past with great aplomb. Bold and boundless in its influence, the movement trickled in to every aspect of culture. Its iconology lives on today in some of the most visceral architectural creations in the world. Intoxicating in their allure and inspiring in their form, here are some of our favourites from around the globe.


Kunsthaus Graz is an international institution staging exhibitions of multidisciplinary, modern and contemporary art from the 1960s to the present day. The biomorphous creation known to locals as the “Friendly Alien” opened in 2003, and has since become a honeypot for art lovers and the culturally minded. The building was designed by London architects Peter Cook and Colin Fournier. Its exterior is fitted with a BIX media façade, an acrylic glass skin embedded with fluorescent lights with variable illumination levels acting as an instrument of art communication. A 19th century building is cloaked under the globular structure, which only makes it all the more intriguing.


This clinquant 44-storey skyscraper is the home of the China Central Television HQ. Construction of this beautiful building, designed by Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren, began in 2004 and was completed in 2008. The main building is not a traditional tower, but a loop of six horizontal and vertical sections of floor space, creating the irregular grid on the building’s facade with an open centre. It is said that a taxi driver, mesmerised by its bizarre shape give the building its nickname, da kucha, which literally translates as ‟big boxer shorts‟. Probably the most beautiful pair of boxer shorts in the world.


The Turning Torso, situated in Malmo is the tallest skyscraper in Sweden standing at a vertiginous 623ft and 54-storeys high. The swirling construction was based on a sculpture by the architect and engineer of the building, Santiago Calatrava, called the Twisting Torso. The building is constructed in nine segments of five-storey pentagons that twist as it rises. Each floor consists of an irregular shape rotating around the vertical core, which is supported by an exterior steel framework.


Reminiscent of a giant incandescent bottle opener, the Shanghai World Financial Centre, located in the Pudong district was the second tallest building in the world, upon its completion in 2008. Housed inside its sleek 1,614ft are offices, conference rooms and shopping malls, not to mention the second-highest hotel in the world, the Park Hyatt, and the tallest observation deck, offering dizzying views from 1,555ft above ground level.


St.Mary's Cathedral, TokyoIf all churches looked like this, we’d go every Sunday. St Mary’s Cathedral in Tokyo is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Tokyo. The original wooden structure was burned down during World War II, the present design, in the form of a giant cross, dates from 1964.


This coruscating jumble of discombobulated shapes that is the Weisman Art Museum was designed by internationally acclaimed architect Frank O Gehry. Named after Minneapolis native art collector Frederick R Weisman, the art museum is located on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis. The buildings undulating stainless steel forms glimmer by the side of the Mississippi River and have become a landmark for the University. Housed inside are some of the most gorgeous galleries in the world.


The Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest building, boasting the world’s highest outdoor observation deck on the 124th floor, At The Top, which offers stunning panoramic views of Dubai. The Burj tower is 320 metres taller than Taiwan’s Taipei 101, which had held the title of world’s tallest building since 2004.