Modern Architecture And Memory Perceptions Cultural Studies Essay

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In the modern world we live in today our perspectives and ideas may differ from the period of when the architects had designed the building, hence leaves many flaws for us to criticise.

From the chapter 'Modern architecture and memory: new perceptions of the past' the author suggests that one should never try to write the history of the recent past for the reason that the writer is likely going to be subjective. [1] The chapter explores how architecture, even in third world countries are influenced by the changes and needs of society such as technological advances, perspectives, morals, ethics and cultural identity. By looking at past architectural buildings to present buildings this idea is presented.

A better understanding of the idea of the transformation of the past, the words Postmodernism/post modernity, Ideology and Post colonialism has been examined.

Post modernity can be phrased to describe life throughout a period marked by radical transformation of the social, economic and political aspects of modernity, evident by the movement of migration and global travel, the flow of information through the internet and new digital technologies, the expansion of trade liberalisation and the increased divide between the rich and the poor, as well as the the collapse of the soviet union and the end of the cold war.

It portrays a set of cultural, social and economic formations that have happened after the elevation of modernity and because of that it had produced both a different worldview and different ways of being in the world than was the case in modernity. It has been referred to as a period of questioning of "metanarratives" by French philosophers Jean-Francois Lyotard and also by Fredric Jameson, it has been described as a historical period of outcome of the cultural 'logic of late capitalism'. [2] 

As for Postmodernism it can be portrayed as an analysis of modernist concepts such as the idea of presence and universalism. Postmodernism is often known as living in the accumulation of modernity. The concept is also used to describe particular styles in art, popular culture that engage in parody, literature, appropriation and architecture. The notion used in art and visual style, postmodern is a collection of styles in the art world in the late twentieth century that doubt authenticity, authorship and the idea of style development. [3] Postmodern works are therefore vastly spontaneous, with a mix of styles.

When talking about popular culture and advertising, the term postmodern has been used to describe techniques that involve reflexivity, discontinuity and appropriation and that speak to viewers as consumers and through self-knowing metacommunication.

Finally, in terms of architecture, some may bicker that postmodernism is a "creative destruction", because of the vast number of architects that are only concerned for the designs of the surface and having no substance. Postmodernist works are often categorised as being rootless, functionalist, lack of values and depth and distorted of historical perspective. [4] Although despite the protestations of both traditionalist and neo-avantgardists, they were making major changes to the architectural production in 1980s and 1990s. [5] From past architectural buildings to the more futuristic designed architecture, it is evident that their architectural designs are influenced by reconsiderations and evolution of advancements of digital technology and alterations of perspectives. However, postmodernist are not completely devoid of substance even tho they signify little on deeper creative forces of the period, instead the ideas and values of the architecture are abstract, ambiguous and free-floating.

An example of a post-modern architecture would be the Guggenheim Museum located near the Nervion River in Bilbao, Spain, by architect Frank Gehry. The design of the building composes of both a modern and contemporary art design, the curves on the building were intended to be random, although also with the metallic like material chosen for the curves its suppose to be designed to catch the light. Upon its opening in 1997, the building is known to be one the world's most impressive buildings in the style of Deconstructivism. [6] 

Fig 1. Ink on paper, 1991. Fig 2. Sketch

Fig 3. Guggenheim Museum

The second key word 'Ideology' can be defined as the "shared set of values and beliefs that exist within a given society and through which individuals live out their relations to social institutions and structures." [7] Ideology describes how certain values and perceptions are made to seem like natural, unavoidable phrases on a daily basis life. According to Marxist's theory of ideology, its definition had undergone a number of changes. His first theory by Marx implies a social system in which the "masses are instilled with the dominant ideology of the ruling class and that constitutes a kind of false consciousness" [8] ; second, by French Maxist Louis Althusser, who combined psychoanalysis and Maxist theory to assume that we are "unconsciously constituted as subjects by ideology" [9] , which therefore gives us a sense of our place in the world; third, by Antonio Gramsci, who used the term hegemony to describe how "dominant ideologies are always in flux and under contestation from other ideas and values". [10] 

When dealing with architecture, there is no single style of ideology. The chapter suggests that the prevailing architectural movement of the past fifteen years of Modernism has a diverse ideology and that by encouraging this architecture its ideology, although there needs to be a balance between ideology and style. One of the strong points for Modern architecture is that the technique and concepts are supported by an influential ideology and it is this ideology that reinforces the power of innovation in our society.

Modernist concepts have not been greatly thriving to large numbers of the public, but because of the modernist movement it shows how ideas and perceptions from the past are slowing changing due to the new modifications in traditions and society. Changes are necessary in order to advance on the present situations, where as if one were to design and build according to defined ways little improvements would be made and would be unsatisfactory to the rapidly changing needs and ideals of the diverse cultural society. Architectural objects and ideas are forced to change in order to compete in a field of rapidly changing conditions, both internal and externally. Rather than implying to copy, by looking at other well designed architecture from the past and present, it is important to understand and absorb the principles behind earlier solutions and their transformation to meet different conditions and fit new intentions. [11] Not only does this apply to the field of architecture but also other intellectual fields as well, while tackling certain tasks, one should look back at past or recent work and unravel fails and successes to make any progress in contemporary culture, and contemporary architecture.

Fig 4. Fumihiko Maki's Fujisawa Municipal Gym

An example of a building that utilises the style of ideology is Fumihiko Maki's Fujisawa Municipal Gym; his study of traditional Japanese architecture can be seen cooperated in his design. Another example would be Rafeal Moneo's National Museum of Roman Art in Merida, Spain (1980-6). Both architects work with their own ideas, order and lineages, that draw upon and contribute to the architectural culture of their time [12] .

Lastly, Post colonialism refers to the cultural and social contexts of countries that were in the past defined through relationships of colonialism and to the contemporary mix of cultures in former colonies, diasporic migrant cultures, including neo-colonialist practices and continuing colonial domination and cultural imperialism towards former colonies. The term postcolonial refers to the broad set of modifications that have affected both former colonies and colonisers and in particular to the mix of languages, identities and influences that have resulted from complex systems of dependence and independence. [13] Most theorists of post colonialism insist that the breakup of older colonial models is never complete and does not put an end to forms of domination between more and less powerful countries.

Whereas post colonialism in terms of architecture explores how the built environment adds to maintain cultural values and furthermore operate as a physical instrument of cultural change. Post colonialism studies the way the built environment undergo changes and transformations due to different emerges of settlement and cultural connotations of each period, thus portraying how architecture and culture shape and influence each other based on the social, broader political and economic environment.

As suggested in the chapter in the post colonial times, architecture and urbanism have continuous sustained a vital position in the enforcement of political manipulation, repeatedly under the pretext of countrywide styles, such designs are based on signs and symbols that portray national identity. Architecture has also helped to represent the surfacing of economies and development in a context of inflationary globalisation, international economic competition, and more or less covert instances of neo-colonialism. [14] Such architecture includes skyscrapers that convey superiority and the country's economic condition. During the 1990s more than a few countries in Asia had spent much endeavour and originality in building skyscrapers, in building them they had challenged the domination of the American high-rise, which also furthermore helped to signify their countries position in the world scale. [15] 

A balance must be found in the architectural values and the social role of the building. The International architectural firms that were successful in making high profits had seen to establish their designs inside the more general structure of globalisation and post-modernist architecture.

An example of an architecture that presents post colonialism is Norman Foster's Hong Kong and Shanghai bank (1979-85), a very futuristic office building that incorporated Chinese geomancy principles, but the building furthermore acts as a monument that suggests technological power put up in one of the last colonies of the former British Empire, hence meets the criteria as late colonial architecture. For another example the Petronas Towers also known as the Twin Towers is another good architecture that explores post colonialism.

Fig 5. Twin Tower Fig 6. Norman Foster's Hong Kong and Shanghai bank

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