1. Home


Picture Dictionary of Modern Architecture: Deconstructivism


The Seattle Public Library by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas is an example of Deconstructivist architecture.
Seattle Public Library by Rem Koolhaas

The central branch of the Seattle Public Library was designed by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and opened in 2004.

Photo ©2005 Niko Vujevic / iStockphoto

Deconstructivism, or Deconstruction, is an approach to building design that attempts to view architecture in bits and pieces. The basic elements of architecture are dismantled. Deconstructivist buildings may seem to have no visual logic. They may appear to be made up of unrelated, disharmonious abstract forms. Deconstructive ideas are borrowed from the French philosopher Jacques Derrida.

In the summer of 1988, architect Philip Johnson was instrumental in organizing a Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) exhibit called "Deconstructivist Architecture." Johnson gathered works from seven architects (Eisenman, Gehry, Hadid, Koolhaas, Libeskind, Bernard Tschumi, and Coop Himmelblau) who "intentionally violate the cubes and right angles of modernism."

"The hallmark of deconstructivist architecture is its apparent instability. Though structurally sound, the projects seem to be in states of explosion or collapse....Deconstructivist architecture, however, is not an architecture of decay or demolition. On the contrary, it gains all of its force by challenging the very values of harmony, unity, and stability, proposing instead that flaws are intrinsic to the structure."

Deconstructivist architects reject Postmodernist ways for an approach more akin to Russian Constructivism.

For examples of Deconstructivism in architecture, look at early works by:

Source: MoMA Press Release, June 1988, pages 1 and 3. PDF accessed online February 26, 2014

  1. About.com
  2. Home
  3. Architecture
  4. Research Tools
  5. Dictionaries
  6. D: Architecture Terms
  7. Picture Dictionary of Modern Architecture - Deconstructivism

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.