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Re-digging Graves: the latent kenosis of postmodern historicism at 'Castalia' in The Hague


Lindstrom, R, Re-digging Graves: the latent kenosis of postmodern historicism at 'Castalia' in The Hague, Academia Letters Article 3596. (2021) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.20935/AL3596


Wearing lapel buttons that read "I Don’t Dig Graves," delegates at the 1983 convention of the American Institute of Architects protested the Honor Award being granted to architect Michael Graves for his design of the Portland Building, a project in the then-still-maturing "Postmodern" style.[1] The objection, however, was directed more to this style than to Graves. It had gradually emerged in response to developments that included Robert Venturi’s denunciation, some seventeen years earlier,[2] of Modernism’s oversimplifications and his call—ironically, much as the Modernists had called—for what might retrospectively be considered a keno-sis of architecture; that is, a "self-emptying" of architecture, particularly to rid itself of staid and static "truths." With that could come an architecture of kenosis, one that opens-up to, fills with, and properly responds to both the fullness (complexity) and incongruity (contra-diction) of the always dynamic situations it encounters.[3] Yet this historicist strain of Post-modernism, as advanced by Graves and many others (mostly in the US), appeared as anything but kenotic—self-assertive rather than receptive to the other—seemingly able only to add to the incongruity of the built environment and willing only to address a particular aspect of its fullness, that of historical antecedents. Despite the passage of time, the Portland Building has remained a lightning-rod for the derision of this style, but there is another building by Graves that, only because of the passage of time, has come to offer a more insightful perspective. In the distinctly European context of The Hague, the distinctly American architect reprised his trademark caricaturisation of historical motifs in a 1998 government office building known as Castalia (see fig. 1), achieving results that, quite unpredictably, reveal latent but consequential kenotic effect.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:kenosis, architecture, postmodern historicism, The Hague, Michael Graves
Research Division:Built Environment and Design
Research Group:Architecture
Research Field:Architectural design
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in built environment and design
UTAS Author:Lindstrom, R (Dr Randall Lindstrom)
ID Code:146812
Year Published:2021
Deposited By:Architecture and Design
Deposited On:2021-09-28
Last Modified:2022-05-23

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