I hate postmodern architecture. It’s ucky and gives me a headache. I particularly hate what sprung up rather abundantly in the 1970’s and 1980’s. I get it. But I hate it. I agree with Venturi and Scott-Brown that modernism had no place to go or grow - that it was increasingly restrictive. I also agree that many modernist architects took themselves too seriously, that they were unbending, and had no sense of humor. But slapping senseless whimsy with questionable palettes onto a building was not the answer. I want to straighten out those squiggles and give color a spine. This does not mean, however, that I reject decoration.
Much of the architecture that directly preceded modernism was teeming with decoration (Georgian, Greek revival, Italianate, Federal). But there was a soberness - a solemnity to those structures and a respect for the culture they reflected. Even the whirly-gig decorations of Beaux Arts showed sturdy craftsmanship. I admire those resolute buildings. They are still decent and honorable. Similarly, you can say that if postmodernism reflected its culture, it’s the Judd Nelson and Molly Ringwald of architecture. They were trendy. Now they are dated.
But there is a house around the corner from us that makes me think twice about such a steadfast declaration. At first inspection, it is textbook postmodern. It has a false front to beat all false fronts. It's a little hard to see from the snap and I was nervous about taking too many pictures. Behind the traditional garage at the front of the house is a detached two-foot thick slatted wood curtain that mirrors the shape of the garage and is perpendicularly bolted onto I-beams. The I-beams then join this façade to the house, separating the two structures by a space of about 6-10 feet. Its superfluous-ness is fearless. It’s as though the piece wants to stay at arms length from its superior, like a sulky teenager walking ahead of her parents at the mall. But looking at the house without its accessory, what you see (albeit not remotely the best of it’s kind) is definitely modernism, bordering on brutalism. A big concrete square box with windows.
I am dying to find out this thinking behind this house. Is it facetious self-awareness? Is it a joke on postmodernism? Did the architect explain the marriage of the two warring styles to the owners? I do like the idea of the house but in the end, it is still postmodern and still stupid.