Postmodernity and Hyper-Reality in Architecture


This essay will turn to architecture’s place in a consumer society. Consumer society can be described as the result of modernism where devouring stuff goods is the overriding characteristic of its balance and values. It is the consequence of the escalation in fabrication and rapid industrial developments. It is besides the result of the huge gait of variegation and growing of civilization, creativeness, engineering and urbanism as a manner of life. I will utilize the constructs of semiotic philosopher Jean Baudrillard’s as a footing in understanding the deductions of this civilization on the built environment, urban design and engineering. I will besides analyze the desire for phantasy kingdoms that mirror world by analyzing Baudrillard’s three orders of simulacra and the “hyperreal” . To understand the look of this phenomenon in our consumerist civilization I have chosen to analyze its manifestation in the urban context of Montecasiono and besides practical environment of Second Life. My purpose is to better understand the architects’ place in this current civilization and what it could intend for the hereafter of architecture.

Postmodernity and Hyper-reality

The postmodern status does non merely replace modernness but it instead opens up a new and complex bed of significance of the modern by stressing its self-contradictory facets. Modernity has become profoundly rooted in modern-day societies and therefore it is about impossible to happen a status where it has had no influence. Post-modernity by default can non be separated from modernness as emancipation and release are built-in to the modern. In the post-modern epoch the electronic image is the prevailing force specifying its nonliteral character. It is saturated with images in the grade which was non observed in history. ( Asanowicz, 2014 ) To understand some of the complexnesss of our image goaded civilization I will foremost be researching the Hagiographas of Jean Baudrillard.

Harmonizing to “Simulacra and Simulation” ( Baudrillard, 1994 ) in our post-modern society, “It is no longer a inquiry of imitation, nor duplicate, nor even lampoon. It is a inquiry of replacing the marks of the existent for the real” . Baudrillard suggests that postmodern civilization is non simply unreal, because the impression of artificiality still involves some sense of world against which to place it. What he conveys is that we can non acknowledge the differentiation between ruse and nature. Baudrillard so argues that there are three “ orders of simulacra ” . Simulacra ( Simulacres in Gallic agencies: stereotype, a pseudo-thing, an empty signifier, a clean signifier ) is one of the cardinal constructs of postmodern aesthetics. ( Asanowicz, 2014 ) . The first order of simulacra is related to the pre-modern period where the image is a clear imitation of the existent. Baudrillard associates the 2nd order of simulacra with the industrial revolution of the 19th century where mass production and the addition of transcripts break down the differences between the representation and the image. The 3rd order of simulacra is specifically associated with the postmodern age. It suggests that the representation precedes and determines the existent. The differentiation between world and its representation is has disappeared and there is merely the simulacrum. Baudrillard defined this deformation of the lines between the original and its transcript as the ‘hyperreal’ ( Baudrillard, 1994 ) . Not merely does the simulacrum imitate the original but the simulacrum of truth is truer than true and therefore the hyperreal is realer than existent. ( Horrocks & A ; Jevtic, 1999 )

This sort of fake image is all around us, nature militias are constructed to mask the absence the natural environment in urban countries. Reallity Television plans are edited to romanticise the mundane. Baudrillard uses the illustration of Disneyland, “Disneyland is presented as fanciful in order to do us believe that the remainder is existent, whereas all of Los Angeles and the America that surrounds it are no longer existent, but belong to the hyperreal order and to the order of simulation. It is no longer a inquiry of a false representation of world ( political orientation ) but of hiding the fact that the existent is no longer existent, and therefore of salvaging the world principle.” ( Baudrillard, 1994 ) . To associate this theory to a South African context I will utilize the illustration of Montesasino. While the fake environment is obviously false, invitees at Montecasino buy into the “reality” of phantasy because society will continually absorb simulacra and its penchant for it over world. Offering a excess of services and amusement options in a Tuscan themed environment, Montecasino disorientates and mesmerises its invitees in a universe of phantasy where disbursement money enhances engagement in, and enjoyment of the retail and leisure experience. Baudrillard remarks on the bleary differentiations between civilization, consumerism and individuality: “Work, leisure, nature and civilization, all antecedently dispersed, separate, and all more or less irreducible activities that produced anxiousness and complexness in our existent life, and in our ‘anarchic and archaic’ metropoliss, have eventually become assorted, massaged, clime controlled and domesticated into the simple activity of ageless shopping. All these activities have eventually become desexed into a individual hermaphroditic atmosphere of style” ( Baudrillard, 2001 ) .

Another illustration of hyperreality is that of Multiaˆ?User Virtual Environments. This has fascinated me since I engaged my first multi-player role-playing computing machine game and recognized the habit-forming qualities it stirred. Today these practical environments are much more sophisticated with practical universes like World of Warcraft and Second Life imitating non merely of our physical universe but besides of our societal, political and economic status. Second Life has an active socialist party, an opposing Marxist party and even an nihilist group. Prostitution, chancing and consumerism are cardinal to the simulation. Users of these environments create embodiments which they define as the most accurate contemplation of theirrealself. Aside from hyperreality, many of the constructs Baudrillard postulates in Simulacra and Simulation are present. It is a semiological perfect universe, where the users are deprived of the ability to travel, eat and drink. The embodiments have nil else to devour but “signs” of the existent. Embodiments can lease cocottes to hold sex which is devoid of human contact or experience accordingly devouring the “sign” of holding sex. The embodiments buy expensive practical apparels to show the differentiation against the embodiments have oning free apparels. No existent apparels have changed custodies, but people spend existent that they have really earned to devour “signs” of goods. From a modernist this would look irrational but Baudrillards states that, “Nothing resembles itself, and holographic reproduction, like all phantasies of the exact synthesis or Resurrection of the existent ( this besides goes for scientific experimentation ) , is already no longer existent, is already hyperreal” ( Baudrillard, 1994 ) , therefore it could be argued that there is no difference in devouring something “real” or a “sign of the real” .

The newest stage of consumer society is consequently concerned with the consequence of digital ingestion. This is intensified by globalization, new information engineerings and real-time communicating. In the following subdivision I will discourse the deductions of society’s preoccupation with ingestion and hyperreality on Architecture.

Post-Modern Architecture in a consumer society

Frederic Jameson suggests that Postmodernism replicates or reproduces and reinforces the logic of consumer capitalist economy. Therefore when we study a consumer society we should concentrate on the seductive and tempting as this is inherit to the consumer life style. In architecture footings such as image, atmosphere and captivation of visual aspect are more of import than modern impressions of individuality, rationalism, naturalism and functionalism ( Jameson, 2002 ) .

Few modern-day designers have consciously thought of their plants with consideration to our image goaded civilization. In “Visions’ Unfolding: Architecture in the Age of Electronical Media” , Peter Eisenman postulates that by utilizing computing machine plans which randomly fold surfaces and link the edifice and landscape into one uninterrupted whole, the architecture does non give up to any peculiar account, but continuously disrupts what is defined as architecture ( Eisenman, 1999 ) . This does turn to the thought of surface being the most of import facet of design but the job is that the plants is perchance non seductive plenty, instead the work is simply absorbing.

On the other manus the work of Jean Nouvel is shrouded in the captivation of visual aspect. In Jean Nouvel in Conversation: Tomorrow Can Take Care of Itself, he says that “image is the affair of architecture and therefore the hereafter of architecture is non architectural in the tectonic sense“ . Nouvel emphasises that his architecture is non composed of infinite but of communicative surfaces, which he calls interfaces. He is non interested in inside informations but merely in images.

Koolhaas and Tschumi are two other designers that have based their plants on a witting survey of atmosphere instead than maps or significances in architecture. Last one can non bury to advert Bernard Tshumi. After the perpendicular, modern, in La Villette we have the horizontal, minimum, conceptual and postmodern hyperrealism. The “cinematic” versions in the architecture enable “events” and are said to supply new freedom for the visitant when taking paths and point of views. Last the celebrated “congestion” in Koolhaas’ plants can be recognised as an atmospheric consequence created by “programming” . Koolhaas tries to make architecture congested with the multitudes in diverse actions. These actions have typically non been assigned a specific topographic point. Rational individuality must be abandoned when construing mass society.


In its most recent signifiers, architecture is already going transparent, Mobile, flexible and synergistic. It about tries to vanish in order to allow a conjectural mass creativeness show through. It replaces the immaterial with drifting regulations of the game, a screen of deconstruction which leaves the topics rather free to contrive their ain game regulations. Besides, architecture is non the lone thing to give manner to this synergistic Utopia of exchange and playful diversion: all art, political relations and practical engineering is traveling in this way. These inclinations manifest themselves in modern-day architecture in the new possibilities for pluralism, “open” architecture, the flexible interrelatedness between manufacturers and consumers, interactivity, and “the advanced consumers” .

Moralism against consumer society and commercial architecture does non work because it is characteristic of consumer society itself that it spreads moralities refering how people should populate and which sort of edifices they should hold. These moralities refering consumers are disguised in the signifier of “choices” . Neither edifice without designers nor pragmatist architecture can do the place of designers better in society, because these phenomena are already included in the mythologies of consumer society.

As concerns the relevancy of Baudrillard’s theory in architecture, it has become evident through my theoretical work that this makes impossible such traditional architectural constructs in general as creativeness, the fulfilling of demands and functionality. Architects can merely rush up or decelerate down interpersonal socio-economic procedures and in this manner increase societal reciprocality and coherence.

Harmonizing to Baudrillard’s analysis of the present socio-economic forms in society, it has become about impossible to do genuinely seductive and mutual architecture. Baudrillard’s theory does non go forth really much for designers to tilt on, up to the inquiry of inquiring whether architecture can at all be designed under Baudrillard’s footings, nevertheless credible he is in indicating out the important problematics of civilization in consumer society.

Beginning List

HILDE HEYNEN, 2000, Architecture and Modernity: A Critique, Massachusetts, MIT Press, 8-24

JEAN BAUDRILLARD, 1994. The precession of simulacra, Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press, 1-42.

JEAN BAUDRILLARD, 1982, Modernite , ” in La modernite ou l’esprit du temps, Biennale de Paris, Section Architecture, Paris, L’Equerre, 27-28.

PETER EISENMAN, 1994, Visions’ Unfolding: Architecture in the Age of Electronical Media, Michigan, A+U Publishers, 2-5.

REM KOOLHAAS & A ; SANFORD KWINTER, 1996, Conversations with Students, New York, Princeton Architect ural Press, p 5-6.