In May, the UK's government body Historic England granted listed status to 17 Postmodern buildings, including CZWG’s China Wharf, John Outram's Judge Institute of Management Studies, and Jeremy and Fenella Dixon's St Mark’s Road. For many, the induction was seen as a much needed validation of a style often noted for its ability to polarize opinion. A key moment in British architecture, the built products of Postmodernism are lauded as bold and innovative by its fierce defenders, and derided as dull and embarrassing by what is probably, unfortunately, a much larger majority.
A timely new show at the Sir John Soane's Museum in London is exploring this controversial legacy of Postmodern architecture in the U.K. The Return of the Past is the first-ever exhibition devoted to Postmodernist British Architecture, giving the style its first gallery treatment as the latest batch of postmodern buildings wins protected status. Focusing on the early, ‘radical moment’ of Postmodernism, the exhibition is chock full of original archival material.
Through a series of objects, drawings, furniture, and models, as well as full-scale replicas and fragments of actual buildings, the exhibition showcases pivotal works by some of the movement’s principal protagonists. Projects by Terry Farrell, Piers Gough, Jeremy Dixon, John Outram and James Stirling/Michael Wilford, will all be featured, much of the materials for which has never been exhibited publicly. You can check out the brain-seducing models for CZWG's China Wharf and John Outram’s Bracken House, among much more.
The exhibition, which runs until August 26th, honors this controversial yet innovative period in architectural history. "Postmodern architecture in Britain is frequently written-off as an expression of 1980s Thatcherism and still little understood" says Owen Hopkins, Senior Curator at Sir John Soane’s Museum. "We conceived this exhibition to set the record straight and reveal this period as one of such amazing creativity and innovation that can hold its own with any moment in British architectural history.”
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