Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Time for a PoMo Society?

A recent piece in the Guardian suggested that - judging from re-run episodes of Top of the Pops - pop music reached its nadir in 1976.  Today, many would think the 1980s the equivalent for postwar architecture.  It was interesting to see Derwent, those canny refurbishers of postwar building stock, choosing to give the 1980s Angel building a complete reclad (by AHMM), erasing the perfectly respectable but undoubtedly dated and unfashionable granite and black glass cladding....

....whereas in their earlier, equally clever makeover of Olivers Yard (by ORMS), the 1960s cladding was kept.

There were probably all sorts of reasons for the respective decisions, but one imagines that fashion - in respect of kerb appeal to likely punters - was a factor.  Just as James Bond's suits in the 1960s films look a lot classier than in the 70s and 80s, and we look back more fondly on the Beatles and Kinks than on Mud and the Rubettes, so 1960s cladding seems more in tune with today's aesthetic interests than the 1980s versions.

But English Heritage is starting to think about what from the 1980s is worth listing, as their recent (rather surprising) recommendation to list Broadgate demonstrates.  Part of the idea of listing is that it can be contrarian - if Brutalism is out of fashion, all the more reason to save some prime examples so there are some left when it comes to be appreciated again - remember that St Pancras was nearly demolished 50 years or so ago.  Could that 1980s PoMo look, so deeply unfashionable now, come back?  What would you list from the 1980s?  I would start with James Stirling's No. 1 Poultry, designed in the 80s though built a decade later - its excesses being not blameworthy but precisely the point, the built representation of the fat city boys in red braces of the Thatcher years.

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