Exploring Popular Culture in Architecture


Popular culture which is also referred to as pop culture is one of the common components in the society that can be defined as an element of culture and even identity of a nation or locality. It is a complex combination of the different elements wherein the society is immersed into. It can be described with reference to the time, the language spread, the fad, the trend in almost every form of aspect such as art and other issues. Basically, it can be a challenge to capture the real sense of the word due to the fact that it involves practices wherein the people are involved in during a certain period (Berger, 1973).

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Included in the most common perception of pop culture are fashion, music, film and sports wherein trends commonly make up the fad. Pop culture can be considered to take different forms. One of the said trends in terms of arts is the architectural developments and styles.

Due to the varying aspects of popular culture, one of the main issues of interest is the architectural aspect. Basically, pop culture in this aspect is related to the trend and style of establishments in a particular location and nation. Another important area that can be viewed is through the types of architecture itself.

In terms of the architectural perspective, the popular culture can be an aspect of influence in the style of architecture. In with the said style is the high culture architectural type. It can be an important field of interest if the two types are comparatively analyzed. In the analysis, one of the most important methods is the presentation of the pop culture in architecture and contrasting it with the standard of the high culture style.

In the study of architecture there are different concepts that can be learned. One is the fact that architecture can define history. On the other hand when it comes to popular culture it can define the present trend in the society, thus, when this is the focus of the study, the main objective is to capture the elements of the era.

In the study of popular culture in architecture then, the main concept that can come into mind in the contemporary period is the mixture of the different elements that had transpired through history. The present trend then can be compared to the historical architecture that had already passed so many years and thus can be considered as high culture (Venturi, 1978a; Jencks, 2003).

In terms of the study of the popular culture in architecture, it can be considered a fact that it is associated with trends of a particular time. The high culture on the other hand, has an element of the popular culture at one point in time but the most important notion is that it had acquired the element of history and the architectural style had survived different era. High culture designs can also be based on classical and historical styles (Venturi, 1978a).

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  • Popular Culture Architecture

In the study of the pop culture in architecture one of the most significant cases that can be presented is the architectural style in the state of Las Vegas. The said state is known for its colorful light and the unconventional architectural style. The said elements can be considered as included in the important elements of pop culture (Berger, 1973).

Popular culture is defined by most authorities in arts and sociology as the style which can greatly express the emotions and the outlook of the people, the whole population if possible. Due to the fact that Las Vegas is one of the modern representations of the architecture, it can be considered that technology, fashion and art of the present generation is included as important components of the style (Venturi, 1977b).

Basically one of the most significant descriptions of Las Vegas is being unconventional in style. The style can be considered as modern with lavishing style that is not frightened to express the elements into exaggeration. This can be the main reason why the establishments of the said state are commonly the subject curiosity (Jencks, 2003; Venturi, 1977b).

The ultimate expression of the said style is presented by the establishments on the Strip, which is considered as the widely renowned place in the state. It can be considered that the majority of the architectural elements are in exaggeration, even the utility. This can be perceived as the main identity of the state and the reason for the identified unconventionality of the style. For the said reason, it can be considered as a pop culture, being unconventional and modern (Jencks, 2003; Venturi, 1977b).

The said style can also be described as a “visual pollution” in terms of the fact that the exaggeration of the components can be observed. This can be considered as the main identity of the architecture of the state, which is also massive, colorful and bright.

Another important element of the popular culture related to architecture is the suburban style and its related components. Suburban style can be observed in the residential architecture, wherein modern characteristics are greatly perceived. It is also less daring than the style of the Strip and the buildings in the urban part of the state. Specifically, the elements of the said style involve diversity, freedom and space (Venturi, 1977b).

Based on the observation of the style of the state of Las Vegas, it can be considered that the establishments are more for the purpose of attraction and promotion than purpose. Basically, when the main issue is the determination of the purpose of the establishment, it can be considered that the objective and the purposes of the buildings and establishments are served.

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  • High Culture Architecture

In terms of the components of the high culture architecture, it can be considered that it is composed of the classic components of the architecture that had been developed through different eras.

One important notion is the fact that the popular culture is one of the main components of the high culture design. It can also be considered that the pop culture is an important influence in the classic form of architecture. Although this is the case, the said influence can be considered welcome due to the fact that the present popular culture is also stimulus in the development of the high design type of architecture wherein the influence can be visible though not a major influence (Venturi, 1978a).

This can be attributed to the fact that the high culture design can be considered as less flexible compared to the popular designs. In addition the designs are more traditional and classically intricate.

Another important notion that can be considered in the study and comparison of the high culture design with that of the pop culture design is the target population. Pop culture can be considered corresponding to the general population. On the other hand, the high culture designs are considered important to the corporate and elitists and even the cultural establishment (Venturi, 1978a).

Analysis on the Relationship of the Architectural Styles

Based on the study undertaken related to the 2 of the influential architectural styles, it can be considered that although the pop culture design and the high culture designs are two extreme types, they can affect the styles of each other. In terms of the architectural field, which can be considered as another form of art, the input form outer factors such as culture and the elements of human civilization can be considered essential in development.

Due to the said conditions and notions, the two architectural styles can be considered related. In the development of the pop culture in architecture, the classic design can even be developed and be the basis of the unconventional designs. This can be made possible on the basis that the present and contemporary techniques, designs and technologies are incorporated and synthesized to for the pop culture design.

On the other hand, the high culture design can be considered as based on the different trends and developments that had undertaken refining and ha acquired history of class. Thus, it can then be considered as a combination of the elements of pop culture designs through history.


Although pop culture can be considered by the population as a common and widespread artistic and cultural style in the present generation, it is an important part in the architectural field. Its uniqueness and unconventionality an even be considered as an identity of the contemporary period in comparison to the other era

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  1. Berger, A. A. (1973). Pop Culture. Dayton, OH: Pflaum/Standard.
  2. Jencks, C. (2003). The New Paradigm in Architecture. The Architectural Review, 213, 2003.
  3. Littlejohn, D. (1999). The Real Las Vegas: Life beyond the Strip. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  4. Venturi R. (1978a). Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture. MOMA.
  5. Venturi R. (1977b). Learning from Las Vegas. MIT.
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