Most architectural styles and eras can easily be defined by specific shared hallmarks—for instance, a certain column, building material, or floor plan that reliably shows up in every home. With postmodern properties, however, knowing exactly what to expect from these homes isn’t quite so straightforward.
As the name implies, postmodern architecture emerged as a response to the rigid standards of 20th-century modernism.
“The clue is in the name, ‘postmodernism,’” says Owen Hopkins, director of the Farrell Centre at Newcastle University and author of the 2020 book, Postmodern Architecture: Less is a Bore. “It defined itself against modernism and the architectural orthodoxy that held sway for the previous 50 years.”
“If modernism was about form over function, antidecoration, and distilling architecture to some kind of platonic ideal, postmodernism was its antithesis,” Hopkins adds. “It was about re-engaging in the modern world and pop culture, and a revival of ornaments, meaning, symbolism, color, and references to create a sort of culturally aware form of architecture that reflected this new spirit of the 1970s and particularly the ’80s.”