Hot topic: a new book delves into postmodernist architecture

Cover Revisiting Postmodernism
Sir Terry Farrell and designer Adam Nathaniel Furman join forces on this new book by RIBA Publishing, entitled ’Revisiting Postmodernism’.
(Image credit: Terry Farrell and designer Adam Nathaniel Furman)

The debate on postmodernism, and its value and legacy, have been ongoing in the architecture world ever since the style’s emergence in the field in the 1960s. Now, one of its main protagonists, British architect Sir Terry Farrell, contributes key thoughts to the discussion by uniting with designer Adam Nathaniel Furman on a new book that revisits the genre.

Produced by RIBA Publishing, Revisiting Postmodernism invites readers to not only delve into the postmodern movement in architecture once more, exploring the style right from its very beginning, but also to examine its ongoing relevance today, from both an architectural, and a wider cultural perspective.

The authors cast a wide net, looking at several case studies both in the UK and internationally, in order to establish the genre’s historical significance and place. Key buildings, such as Robert Venturi’s Vanna House in Philadelphia (1964) and Clifton Nurseries in London by Sir Terry Farrell (1980), are mentioned throughout, illustrating Farrell and Furman’s engaging thought process.

‘In this book Adam and I concentrated on revisiting perceptions of postmodernism in architecture,’ said Farrell. ‘We wanted to share a genuine appreciation of the buildings, architects and ideas that made the era such fertile ground for architectural invention.’

The book is addressed, the authors explain, to those ‘who are unfamiliar with the architectural period’, but no doubt it can serve as a valuable reminder and reference to the more informed reader as well.

With Farrell’s first-hand experience of the movement’s peak, and Furman’s fresh appreciation through a more historical and cultural lens, the pair hope to inject their own, rich perspective into one of the most captivating and controversial current dialogues in contemporary architecture.

China Wharf apartments

China Wharf apartments in Bermondsey, London by CZWG (1988).

(Image credit: Reid & Peck / RIBA Collections)

Piazza d’Italia in New Orleans

Piazza d’Italia in New Orleans by Charles Moore (1978)

(Image credit: Rig)

Portcullis House on Bridge Street

Portcullis House on Bridge Street, London by Michael Hopkins & Partners (2001). 

(Image credit: Janet Hall / RIBA Collections)

Retti Candle Shop

Retti Candle Shop in Vienna by Hans Hollein (1966).

(Image credit: Keith Collie / RIBA Collections)

Rietveld Schröder House on Prins Hendriklaan

Rietveld Schröder House on Prins Hendriklaan, Utrecht by Thomas Rietveld (1924).

(Image credit: :Hans Jan Durr / RIBA Collections)

The- Guggenheim in New-York

The- Guggenheim in New-York by Frank Lloyd Wright (1959).

(Image credit: Danica O. Kus / RIBA Collections)

TVam in London

TVam in London (1983)

(Image credit: Terry Farrell)

Vanna House in Philadelphia by Robert-Venturi (1964)

Vanna House in Philadelphia by Robert-Venturi (1964) 

(Image credit: Vanna House)

World Financial Center Battery Park City Cesar Pelli 1988

World Financial Center in Battery Park City (1988)

(Image credit: Cesar Pelli)


Revisiting Postmodernism, £35, published by RIBA Bookshops

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).