Archigram gets ready to OPEN their ARCHIVES
We’re really excited about the new unveiling of the Archigram’s archives, with more than 4,000 drawings, models and audio tapes produced by Archigram that have been catalogued and digitised over the past years. After 40 years of being stored in garden sheds, under beds and in cupboards, the archive of the 1960s collective Archigram will be available to the public on a special website.
Despite its serious background, Archigram became a synonym for the fusion of pop and architecture. In 1961 the first issue of the magazine Archigram appeared, edited by David Greene, Peter Cook and Michael Webb, in an edition of 300 and printed on large-format paper. It was a low-budget publication, but highly self-consciously saw itself as the mouthpiece for a young generation of architects, planners and artists, presenting new solutions for existing urban-design problems. With Peter Cook’s quote “The pre-packaged frozen lunch is more important than Palladio,” the group defined their position in the early 60’s, when architecture and cities were in need of big changes.
David Greene wrote in 1961:
A new generation of architecture must arise with forms and spaces which seems to reject the precepts of ‘Modern’ yet in fact retains those precepts. We have chosen to by pass the decaying Bauhaus image which is an insult to functionalism. You can roll out steel – any length. You can blow up a balloon – any size. You can mould plastic – any shape. Blokes that built the Forth Bridge – they didn’t worry.
The US critic Michael Sorkin defined Archigram’s influences as a combination of Britain’s heroic engineering heritage – Crystal Palace, the Dreadnought, the Spitfire, the Forth Bridge and the work of Isambard Kingdom Brunel – with Buckminster Fuller’s technocractic idealism and vernacular images of Marvel Comics and The Eagle, Meccano, sci-fi films, pop music, funfairs and pop art. “Bewitched by nomadic fantasies, Archigram argued that an architecture based on mobility and malleability could set people free,” he wrote. “This notion of consumer choice combined optimised technology, a post-Beat hitchhiker’s sense of freedom and the giddy styles of customisation found in Detroit.”
One of its strengths was the diversity of a group in which the six core members and their collaborators came from very different backgrounds with different skills and enthusiasms. “The overlap was an enjoyment of teasing,” wrote Cook, “teasing the architectural extremity, and most of the architectural language.”
After publishing the second issue of the magazine, in 1962, group projects soon developed out of their work on the publication, such as the exhibition Living City in London’s ICA, in which Archigram re-staged the City as a living organism. Projects like Walking City, Instant City and Crushicle followed. In 1964, with Plug-in City, Archigram presented the ultimate in megastructure: held by the diagonal struts of the supporting structure and connected by communicating pipes, are a mass of residential towers, office structures, honeycomb theatres and information silos. The buildings are crowned by cranes, with which the individual modules can easily be moved and exchanged.
So, THE FINAL COUNTDOWN STARTS NOW… Three days to go!!
All images: dpr-barcelona [Ethel Baraona + César Reyes]