Assessing The Robert Venturis Interpretation Cultural Studies Essay


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This changes the meaning of architecture. Thus, all styles can be used,according to public taste. It is based on the public, social and technological relevance of the day to decide which elements are relevant to the design.

For example, he referred to the electronic, saying that "relevant to today's revolution"[3] in the design of the sculpture of the antenna. This shows that if the book was killed in architecture, television and other media of the recent advances is to kill the book. Arts,architecture, television, and all the other media have an important relationship in the art. People can become another symbol of the communication. As the book uses symbols to convey messages, and the Cathedral statues and other symbols used to communicate, such as Venturi has been found to be eternal symbol relevant toarchitectural design. And so, architectural references to history and symbols is what makes the artistic Venturi's building, and the ability to design an eclectic forms which is interesting to the public.

Venturi utilized past styles and edifices. Venturi worked with the history of architecture, specifically Italian Mannerism, French and German Rococo, and the Early Modern works. He referenced Isfahan, Samarakand, and Samarra styles to respond to Islamic architecture in his design of Iraq's State Mosque.[3] He looked at the forms independent of their specific cultural or historical significance, and all that mattered to him was how they might contribute to the perceptual whole experience of his project.


Robert Venturi is a designer unlike any other due to his revolutionary ways of thinking. He is said to be one of the first to design and create the style of postmodernism; in fact his first book Complexity And Contradiction In Architecture, has been described as a "manifesto" for the movement. The most overreaching principle in Venturi's architecture is the idea of history. Its presence is noted it all of his works and projects and is a sort of program to which he is constantly returning. From this, he has produced the concept of "both-and". "Both-and" is based on the idea of letting completely different elements of a design co-exist rather than choosing one or the other. He, along with his colleagues, describes this as the decorated shed versus the duck. The decorated shed says that the there is a shelter with a sign depicting what it houses; the duck says that the building is the sign. The decorated shed clearly demonstrates the principle of "both-and" by having both a structure and a sign, while the duck says that you can have either-or.


Robert Venturi and two other architects Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour who wrote the book which first brought the concept to light, see a building as a place to fulfil its purpose. At the time the book was written, Las Vegas was beginning to move away from the burger or chicken style restaurant and into fully fledged buildings or resorts mimicking cities and landmarks. They created the term 'decorated shed' to describe a building which primarily is designed and built to maximise efficiency and functionality.

The book did not say whether a duck or decorated shed was better, but that they were different. Built with entirely separate points of focus, a duck would concentrate solely on how the building was presented to you. If a building had a grand, creative or extravagant exterior which made you appreciate the detail and craftsmanship then it has achieved its purpose. A decorated shed however, would treat the interior space and how effective the building was as its priority, with the exterior embellished after the inside is designed to maximise productivity.

In these modern times, it is more likely that a decorated shed is built, as environmental requirements; price and space are all sought-after advantages of building. Getting the mix between functionality, practicality and exterior design right, is the job of modern day architects who can follow Venturi's theory. A building where the style and function are joined together, such as the Long Island Duckling, are seldom seen in recent times as there is no real need for them. Due to technology and modern techniques, it is possible to start a building with the intention of creating a decorated shed and finishing with a duck as contemporary architecture now has limitless possibilities. ThompsonWhat Is the Difference Between a Duck and Decorated Shed?

Home Improvement: Landscaping Outdoor Decorating • Published: March 17, 2011

To create a perceptual whole, both Venturi utilized past styles and edifices. Venturi worked with the history of architecture, specifically Italian Mannerism, French and German Rococo, and the Early Modern works. He referenced Isfahan, Samarakand, and Samarra styles to respond to Islamic architecture in his design of Iraq's State Mosque.[3] He looked at the forms independent of their specific cultural or historical significance, and all that mattered to him was how they might contribute to the perceptual whole experience of his project.


Venturi stated that the simple facades of Modern architecture were not engaging enough. He chose to showcase specific aspects such as colored brick patterns within the walls of his structures. As long as they were appropriate for the project, Venturi was intrepid in his use colors and patterns in his designs (Owens, 1986, p. C13). This love of richness and symbolism in design was apparent in Venturi's Sainsbury Wing addition to London's National Gallery, a work that was greeted with much praise (London National Gallery, 2006). Because of his flexibility in his architectural program, he was selected to design the new addition where he incorporated themes from the existing structure, but the addition was noticeably different. The new design maintained many of the exterior themes from the existing façade but also incorporated a vast array of skylights and an irregularly shaped and non-symmetrical floor plan. Like Prince Charles of England, Venturi shared the same "disdain" for the simplicity of Modernism (Owens, 1986, p. C13).

In another project, Venturi was commissioned to design an addition to the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College in Ohio. As with the Sainsbury Wing addition, Venturi and his staff achieved the goal of designing an addition thatPage 58 Oshkosh Scholar

conformed to a series of interior uses but avoided stealing the original building's significance by emphasizing specific qualities of the "architectural gem" (Miller, 1977, p. D1). The addition to the Allen Memorial Art Museum was opened to the public in 1977 and was seen as one of the "finest examples of postmodern architecture in the United States" (Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College, 2006). Venturi's addition, with its inventive use of ornamentation and symbolism, generously complemented the original Tuscan-style building to which it had been attached.

Along with these additions, Venturi produced a series of smaller buildings during the 1970s-most of which are not known by most Americans. Regardless of their lack of recognition, some of Venturi's proudest achievements were "houses that look[ed] like houses." He wanted to create fire stations that looked like fire stations and hospitals that looked like hospitals. Venturi admitted that what he and his firm were doing "horrified people," particularly Modern architects, (Klass, 1992, sec. 7).

In the late 1950s, already hinting at his eventual shift to Postmodernism, Modern architect Philip Johnson declared, "You cannot not know history" (Hughes, 1979). Johnson's proclamation offended orthodox Modernists, but he eventually realized that history binds people together and found that Modernism offered no outlet to express historical relevance. Venturi understood Johnson's historical desires better than most architects did and later incorporated the same convictions into his own style of Postmodern architecture. He believed that successful architecture had to be undertaken by those who understand their history. Venturi pointed out in a 1990 interview that "most architects don't (know their history) today." As a consequence, he continued, the resulting architecture displays a "kind of lifelessness" and "lack of vitality" (Anderson, 1990, p.72). What is essential in understanding why Modernism failed to relate to the general population is that it was lifeless and bland and held no significance for anyone. In the same interview, Venturi commented on how "Modernism involved a minimalist approach," so there was hardly room for historical symbolism to be included in a Modern-style building (Anderson, 1990, p. 78).

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