A are constructed in a classical way

A review of Frank Gehry as
a De-Constructivist Postmodern Architect

Frank Gehry is a de-constructivist
and one of the most recognizable figures of postmodern architecture. Postmodern
architecture is an architectural movement which has shown in the mid of the
twentieth century, as a reaction against the strict rules, formality, lack of
variation, and ignorance of history and culture of the modern architectural style,
which was at its peak domination at that time. However, it was the first spark
of change after the architect and architectural theorist Robert Venturi has
written (Venturi) his book Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture in 1966
describing modern architecture as a doctrine and calling for complex and
contradictory architecture based on the richness and ambiguity of modern
experience. Venturi called for architecture that is hybrid, diverse, messy, and
compromised, architecture that imbodies unity of inclusion rather than
exclusion. Since then, many architects and pioneers have opened their eyes on the
very diverse and free of obligations architecture that could be made. At that
time, the Canadian architect Frank Gehry was just starting his professional private
career, with having his pre-qualities and the filed freely wide open for
contributions, as a result, Gehry succeeded to set a new dimension of postmodern
architecture.
Gehry works lay under de-constructivism, which is a late postmodern approach in
architecture that has developed from Semiotics by the French philosopher
Jacques Derrida. Further, it encourages radical freedom of form and the open
manifestation of complexity in a building rather than strict attention to
functional concerns and conventional design elements such as right angles or
grids (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). De-constructivism mainly seeks to expose deep-seated contradictions in a work by looking below
its surface meaning,
which means that a thing or a design could have different meanings, it only
depends on how it is being interpreted.
According
to Derrida, reading texts that are constructed in a classical way is easier for
deconstruction. Likewise, deconstructivist architecture requires the existence
of a definite archetypal construction, so that it can be deconstructed. (Hoteit
122). Accordingly, the best example of this technique in Gehry designs is
Gehry’s Santa Monica Residence, it has been achieved in braking and
deconstructing the traditional suburban house design by enveloping it with an
unfinished industrial look façade with changing the conventional spatial
arrangements and massing of the existing building. Moreover, by putting the
kitchen in the old house driveway outside the frame of the house, Gehry succeeded
in braking the old house boundaries, resulting in making a collision that
brakes the borders between the inside/outside, interiority/exteriority. This kind
of deconstruction of duality is a major postmodern characteristic.
Another approach which is very obvious in all Gehry designs is the absolute
rejection of an ideal form or a perfect shape for a particular activity, which
relates to postmodernism as a kind of refusal of strict rules of modern
architecture, the architecture of typologies. Instated, Gehry uses the free
play approach, creating and designing curvy unconventional gravity-defying buildings,
combined with the use of strange unordinary materials such as corrugated metal,
stainless steel, special types of glass, and even titanium.
In addition, Gehry can also be described as a man of Neo-expressionism. It is
very notable that most of his designs look like unfinished structures, as he
thinks that unfinished structures are more poetic than super precise finished
stuff. Moreover, he connects back this fascination with his obsession of unfinished
art paintings in early stages of his life. Neo-expressionism is a notion that
showed in the late twentieth century as a rejection of modern ideal concepts,
and it is considered as a part of postmodern architecture.
The issue of history and place was an important consideration by Gehry in the
creating and designing of The Bilbao effect as people call it, Frank says about
Guggenheim “I spent a lot of time making the building relate to the 19th
century street module and then it was on the river, with the history of the
river, the sea, the boats coming up the channel. It was a boat.” (Moore, The
Guardian).
With all what has been mentioned before, I personally consider Frank Gehry among
the First real postmodern architects. When a group of Architects have been distinguished
as Postmodern when they were doing nothing but ordinary mesian buildings
covered with a nostalgic façade, Frank never was a part of this, instead, he
created a nonconventional steel structures that were true buildings with
relation between the inside and the outside, covered with the use of new materials.

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To conclude, although
that Gehry refuses to call himself a de-constructivist or a postmodernist, his
designs are considered as a major contribution in de-construction and
postmodern architecture. Nevertheless, Gehry says that he is not trying to
start a new school of architecture, describing himself only as an architect who
is trying to respond to its time. However, with all this comes the question
that, will this fascination and excitement of design last, having inspired a
new generation by the school of Gehry. The twentieths century has started with Art
Nouveau effecting Gaudi, Wright, and the late-period Le Corbusier with its
curvy lines. And in the decades after the world war II, Machines, Aircrafts,
and manufacturing advancements have been the main inspiration for the modernist
architecture. These periods have been pushing many of their fans to the
borderlines of far creation and innovation. As a consequent, we can consider
Gehry designs as an embodiment of future, representing the era of technological
advancements and visual stimulation.

 

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