“A spectre is haunting Europe — the spectre of postmodernism”. In 1980, reporting on the First Venice Architecture Biennale, French journalist Gérard-Georges Lemaire adapted Marx and Engels’ famous formula, used as opening passages of The Communist Manifesto, in order to describe the state of affaire in European architectural culture. But what exactly had happen to architecture between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s?
Starting from the general assumption that postmodernism is the era that follows modernism; this seminar aimed at defining the term postmodern in relation to architecture. With the demise of the Modern Movement in the late 1950s and early 1960s, architects from Europe and America (amongst others) increasingly started to use historical references, colour and ornament, while aiming at communication through a polysemic architectural production. In order to convey “meaning”, postmodern architects used diverse modalities of reference such as nostalgia, satire, parody, melancholia, allegory, irony and pastiche.
This theoretical seminar has served to replace the concepts of postmodernity/postmodernism/postmodern within an historical, architectural and artistic context. Following this theoretical and historical exploration of international postmodernism, students were asked to further explore the particularities of postmodernism within the scandinavian context. In the final workshop for this course, students produced an original research (ideally using unexplored archives related to postmodernism). The result of these researches are presented in this volume.
The book Understanding Postmodern Architecture: A Norwegian Perspective contains work by students Kirsten Hammer, Maria Bjørnland, Mille Herstad, Eivind Nesterud, Hanne Jülke Roer, Oda Havstein, Mathilde Engen Stabekk, Maia Hodne, Maria Hummelsund, Ingrid Dobloug Roede, Håvard Mørkved Bohne, Ulrikke Dreyer, Ingrid Engøy Henriksen, Øyvind Anker Ljosland, Stefan Aaberg Landøy, Truls Aastebøl, Li Zhang, and Nils Henrik Henningstad. It is edited by Léa-Catherine Szacka, instructor of the elective course Understanding Postmodern Architecture, Fall 2013.