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The Story of Post-Modernism: Five Decades of the Ironic, Iconic and Critical in Architecture

ISBN: 978-0-470-68896-0
272 pages
October 2011
The Story of Post-Modernism: Five Decades of the Ironic, Iconic and Critical in Architecture (0470688963) cover image


In The Story of Post-Modernism, Charles Jencks, the authority on Post-Modern architecture and culture, provides the defining account of Post-Modern architecture from its earliest roots in the early 60s to the present day. By breaking the narrative into seven distinct chapters, which are both chronological and overlapping, Jencks charts the ebb and flow of the movement, the peaks and troughs of different ideas and themes.
  • The book is highly visual. As well as providing a chronological account of the movement, each chapter also has a special feature on the major works of a given period.
  • The first up-to-date narrative of Post-Modern Architecture - other major books on the subject were written 20 years ago.
  • An accessible narrative that will appeal to students who are new to the subject, as well as those who can remember its heyday in the 70s and 80s.
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Table of Contents

PREFACE Post-Modernism Resurgent?

The Back Story

Some Debts Acknowledged

And Especially Madelon

PART I The Perfect Storm of Post-Modernism

The Moral Failures of Modernism

The Recurrent Deaths of Modernism

The Triumph of Nothingness

Revisionists and Le Corbusier Lead the Revolt

Complexity and Double-Coding – the First Post-Modern Synthesis

The Shape of History – Big, Medium and Small Waves

PART II Searching for Difference, Finding Commonality

Global Pluralism

Radical Eclecticism, the First Response to Homogeneity

Contextual Counterpoint

Post-Modern Classicism – the Ironic International Style

Media Events and Money

A Diversion on Cost and Taste

James Stirling Synthesises Contextualism and Pluralism

The Complexity Paradigm Extended

Modernists Becoming Post-Modern

Time-Binding Opposites

PART III Towards a Critical Modernism

What is a City? – a Complex Adaptive System

Heterotopias and the Heteropolis

Expressively Green and Inexpensive

Rem Koolhaas, Steven Holl, Toyo Ito and the Porous Route Building

Peter Eisenman, the Landform and the Critical-Creative

PART IV Complexity and Nature’s Ornament

The Complexity Paradigm

Fractal Architecture and the Metaphysics of Seamless Continuity

Opening up the White Cube

Four Degrees of Ornament

PART V The Coming of the Cosmic Icons

The Iconic Building and its Discontents

The Bilbao Effect

Multiple Meaning and Enigmatic Signifiers

Worthy Icons?

Paranoia, Veiled Themes and Cosmic Iconology

Premature Conclusion: the Iconology of Post-Modernism?


A Post-Modern Bibliography

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Author Information

Charles Jencks is an American architectural theorist, author and landscape architect. He has a BA in English Lit, BA and MA in Architecture and a PhD in Architectural History. He guest lectures on architecture in cultural institutions across the world.
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