Friday, November 11, 2011

The Metamodern in Twenty-first Century Architecture



What Are the Characteristics of Metamodern Architecture?

There are four major characteristics identified. First is a new romanticism often evidernced in a surreal quality, the use of the fantastic and the dream-like found generally throughout Metamodern Art. Second, the rather nebulous conceptualization of multiple unresolved oppositional confrontations capable of existing simultaneously is paramount.*1 These confrontations are often evidenced in the direct argument achieved through the incorporation of the contemporary with existing historic architecture.*2 As one among so many examples I point out the Allen Lambert Galleria at Brookfield Place, in Toronto, Canada by Santiago Calatrava.*3

Allan Lambert Galleria, Toronto, Canada, Santiago Calatrava 

Third, as I’ve worked on this series of journal entries, I have also identified an organic metamodern component present in many of the works, especially those of Zaha Hadid, and Santiago Calatrava. Fourth, the use of the computer and new technologies as an aid in the design of buildings, as in the works of Frank Gehry and others. Gehry's curvilinear (blobitecture) and/or abstract*4 shaped structures are the mark of Metamodern computer assisted architectural design.*5

Where do I go from here?

It is important to note that the Metamodern has materialized only in large programmatic works of architecture to date; convention centers, theaters, museums, and other large public projects. It is too early in the process of “Metamodernization” for these characteristics to have filtered down through the ranks of architects less able to take on the expense of huge projects, much less to influence domestic architecture. Thus, I arrive at a new question. Will the Metamodern influence domestic architecture, if not, why not? If so, what will the evidence of that influence look like? How will we identify that influence should it take place?

And with this last, I have pointed toward a future journal entry.


* Wolynski, Elizabeth, Vegas Images,, Created September 10, 2010, viewed 8:26 AM EST, Thursday, November 10, 2011. I used the image of the new Cleveland Clinic building in my montage of Metamodern architecture taken from Elizabeth Wolynski's journal. It is in the top center viewer's left portion. It is known that one time use of an image for intellectual purposes is legal under U.S. copyright law. I've since looked through Ms. Wolynski's journals, and found them worth taking a thorough look through.

*1 Vermeulen, Timotheus, and van den Akker, Robin, “Notes on Metamodernism,” in Journal of Aesthetics & Culture, Vol. 2, 2010 DOI: 10.3402/jac.v1i0.5677. On line at, visited 10:35 AM, EDT, Thursday, June 23, 2011.

*2 The opposition of historic with contemporary design in architecture was begun during the Postmodern as an ironic gesture in which historic architecture was saved from destruction as had so often been done during the 1950's through 1960's Minimalist Modern period.

*3 nformation |Description={{en|1=Allan Lambert Galleria (Brookfield Place), Toronto ON, Canada}} {{de|1=Allan Lambert Galleria (Brookfield Place), Toronto ON, Kanada}} |Source=Eigenes Werk (own work) |Author=Ansgar Walk | In Wikipedia on line Encyclopedia, Viewed Friday, November 11, 2011, 11:11 AM, EST.

*4 An abstract shape is characterized by angles greater and less than 90 degrees, and curved and straight lines of various irregular lengths.

*5  Waters, John K., Blobiteture:  Wave Form Architecture and Digital Design.  Minneapolis:  Rockport Publishing, 2003.

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