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Robert Venturi's Post Modernism Essay

2220 words - 9 pages

History and Theory3 AT2 Theory verses
Chin Cher Wee

Complexity and contradiction was claimed be the most important writing in the making
of architecture since Le Corbusier’s “vers une architecture” (Scrully, 1977). The book has
manifested his points of view of the necessary complex and contradictory architecture, which
essentially contains ambiguity and tension. Rather than exclude everything, inclusion of unity
becomes the task of his architecture. He emphasizes the play of compromising of element
which leads to difficult whole. The writing doesn’t reject nor accept any prevailing style, instead
it abstracts the element of the building that ...view middle of the document...

The expedient
device is an element in all anonymous architecture that is dependent on a strong
conventional order. It is used to adjust the order to circumstances which are contradictory to
it (Venturi, 1977, p46)
Contradiction between outside and inside may manifest the inside and the outside can be a
major manifestation of contradiction in architecture. However, one of the powerful twentieth
century orthodoxies has been the necessity for continuity between them: the inside should
be expressed on the outside (Venturi, 1977, p70)

Chestnut hill Vanna Venturi House, 1962

Contradictory levels of meaning and use
in architecture involve the paradoxical
contrast implied by the conjunctive ‘yet’.
They may be more or less ambiguous
(Venturi, 1977, p23).

Fig 1.0 front elevation of Vanna Venturi house

Meaning can be enhanced by breaking the order, the
exception points up the rule (Venturi, 1977, p41).
Fig 1.1 plan of Vanna Venturi House.

In the Chestnut Hill project. Contradiction was achieved through several ways which
were mentioned in his book. First through contradictory levels of meaning, the house was
designed to be big yet little, which was indicated by being a small scale building, but having
oversized windows, doors and chimney, the scale of the house becomes ambiguity. The façade
also reflects the contradiction promoted by Venturi, which the overall composition of the front
façade is symmetrical, however the minor elements in it are asymmetrical for the need of
It also accommodates the contradictory order, which conventional elements were used
unconventionally in the building. Such as the gable, chimney, windows, form of the building
which represents a house public scales were all altered through either fragmentation or
The contrast of inside and outside was achieved by the parapeted front and back walls which
defines the façade as a screen, contradicts to the complex inner program of the house. On the
other hand, the necessity for continuity between inside and outside was achieved by expressing
the symmetrical consistency on the plan, and the varying sizes and location of penetrations on
the outside expresses the circumstantial distortion of inside, nevertheless, the interior and the
exterior was contradicted by the contrast colors.
Duality, in this case which are the chimney and the staircase, two vertical contrasting elements,
one void and one solid, due to their competing central position, were compromised by
inflecting towards the overall composition. The chimney and fireplace was move over a little as
we mentioned before, and the staircase was distorted in width and shape because of the
chimney. This can be related to the balloon frames he used as an example in his book, which

represents two pure extremes, evolved towards each other until it contains the characteristic of
both ( Venturi, 1977, pg38).
The house was also attempt to accommodate the directional and...

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