As one of the founding members of Archigram, the avant-garde futurist architecture group of the 1960s, Sir Peter Cook, the British architect, professor, and writer has been a pivotal figure within the global architectural world for over half a century; one of his most significant works from his time with Archigram, The Plug-In City, still invokes debates on technology and society, challenging standards of architectural discourse today. With a love for the slithering, the swarming and the spooky, Cook continues to teach at the University College London’s Bartlett School of Architecture and lecture around the world.
As one of the founding members of Archigram, Cook gained significant international recognition; however, he has now also been recognized for his built works around the world. His recent works, including the construction of his Art Museum in Graz, Austria (Kunsthaus) has brought his radical ideas to a wider public audience. He currently practices with Gavin Robotham as part of CRAB Studio (Cook Robotham Architectural Bureau).
“Walking City: Architecture + Evolution + Movement” is an awesome new video from Universal Everything that we came across on Fast Co.Design. In it, the humanoid figure, a literal “Walking City,” shape-shifts: one moment like the Plug-In City, another like Bucky Fuller‘s geodesic domes.
For another awesome project inspired by Ron Herron’s The Walking City, check our popular post on Manuel Dominguez’s “Very Large Structure.” And check out the fun gif of “Walking City: Architecture + Evolution + Movement” after the break.
In the following interview, which originally appeared in Zawia#01:Utopia (published December 2013), Sir Peter Cook, one of the brilliant minds behind Archigram, sits down with the editors of Zawia to discuss his thoughts on utopia – including why he felt the work of Archigram wasn’t particularly utopian (or even revolutionary) at all.
ZAWIA: It is perhaps difficult to discuss our next volume’s theme – “utopia” – without first starting with archigram and the visions that came out of that period. How do you view the utopian visions of archigram during that specific moment of history in relation to the current realities of our cities and the recent political and social waves of change ?
PETER COOK: Actually… at the time I was probably naive enough to not regard it as Utopian.
This Article by Avinash Rajagopal originally appeared in Metropolis Magazine as “Five Compelling Works of Architecture Fiction“. Rajagopal argues in favor of the often dismissed genre of ‘architecture fiction’, giving five recent examples of the best the field has to offer.
As far as we know, the writer Bruce Sterling coined the term “architecture fiction,” in 2006. He was referring, of course, to speculative projects in which architects use ideas for the built environment to express themselves in a way that’s analogous to how storytellers use words. It’s a longstanding architectural tradition. Sterling cites the polemic work of the 1960s British group Archigram; the canon includes Lebbeus Woods’s drawings from the two decades that followed and Greg Lynn’s digital imaginings (one of which accompanied a short story by Sterling, in Metropolis’s 2003 Fiction Issue).
In the last few years, we have seen a groundswell in the genre. The usual reason given to explain the profusion of these fictitious works is that the recession made it hard for young architects to find “real” work, but there are probably other factors at play. Ethical concerns are back in the zeitgeist for a contradictory generation that’s equally into Occupy Wall Street, iPhones, and hipster shops selling single-source coffee. Their utopias and dystopias are more easily imagined with 3DS Max and Photoshop, and far more quickly disseminated online. All of this has made for some pretty rich storytelling.
Commenters on blogs still rail about the “uselessness” of architecture fiction. To answer them would be akin to mounting a defense of the short story—one surely could, but it would be a self-defeating exercise. The very nature of fiction is to be less bothered with usefulness than with possibility. In that spirit, here are five recent projects that I found compelling, in both imagery and the stories they attempt to tell.
In a world where people live more mobile lifestyles than they have for centuries, cities are facing a problem they rarely planned for: their citizens move away. When jobs and resources start to decline, modern cities, such as Detroit, suffer difficult and often wasteful processes of urban contraction. In contrast to this, Manuel Dominguez’s “Very Large Structure,” the result of his thesis project at ETSA Madrid, proposes a nomadic city that can move on caterpillar tracks to locations where work and resources are abundant.
Of course this is not the first time that the idea of a nomadic city has been proposed. Ron Herron’s Walking City is one of the more recognizable Archigram designs from the 1960s, and has been influential to architectural theory ever since. However, the design for the “Very Large Structure” expands on the Walking City by including strong proposals for energy generation on board the city.
Read on to see more on this provocative project – including a full set of presentation boards in the image gallery.
It is estimated that by 2050, 75 percent of the worlds – then 9 billion strong – population will live in cities. Urban Sprawl is already problematic and planners are faced with new challenges as they aim to build towards the sky rather than the horizon. In addition, cities are increasingly faced with climate change, resource scarcity, rising energy costs, and the possibility of future natural or man-made disasters. In response to these issues, Arup has proposed their vision of an urban building and city of the future.
In their proposal, titled “It’s Alive!”, they imagine an urban ecosystem of connected ‘living’ buildings, that not only create space, but also craft the environment. According to Arup, buildings of the future will not only produce energy and food, but will also provide its occupants with clean air and water.
More info on Arup’s vision after the break…
Share your creative responses in the comment section below:
Peak oil is approaching. In the next future, most of the oil-dependent suburbs in which we live now will be abandoned and decay, turning into ruins, inhabited only by the few ones who where too fat and too car-dependent to escape back to the city. Little by little, nature will take over suburbs, but this process will be extremely slowly.