Yesterday's Future: Visionary Designs by Future Systems and Archigram

07:00 - 29 April, 2016
Yesterday's Future: Visionary Designs by Future Systems and Archigram , Archigram, Walking City (Project 064), 1964 . Image © Deutsches Architekturmuseum
Archigram, Walking City (Project 064), 1964 . Image © Deutsches Architekturmuseum

The exhibition “Yesterday's Future” juxtaposes utopias by Future Systems and Archigram. It presents extraordinary utopias created by the teams of architects at Future Systems and Archigram. It focuses on detailed technical drawings, brightly coloured collages and filigree original models.

The works by Czech architect and founder of Future Systems Jan Kaplický, who emigrated to London in 1968, date from the 1980s and 1990s and are juxtaposed to designs created 20 years earlier by the Archigram architectural group, which was made up of Peter Cook, Ron Herron, and Dennis Crompton. Whereas Archigram conceived organic architecture that ensured survival in inhospitable environments, the technoid designs by Future Systems were located in friendlier places such as deserted natural surroundings or extremely built-up cities.

From Ancient Rome to the Coachella Festival: A Brief History of Pop-Up Architecture

09:30 - 17 March, 2016
From Ancient Rome to the Coachella Festival: A Brief History of Pop-Up Architecture, Ball-Nogues' "Pulp Pavilion" at Coachella 2015. Image © Joshua White
Ball-Nogues' "Pulp Pavilion" at Coachella 2015. Image © Joshua White

Ask some people, and they'll tell you that pop-up architecture is a quintessentially 21st century form of architecture, but in fact the idea goes back over 2000 years. In this article originally published on Curbed as "The Rise and Rise of Pop-Up Architecture," Marni Epstein-Mervis traces the development of pop-up architecture right from its origins in ancient Rome, analyzing how the phenomenon has transformed into what we recognize today.

For five weeks in August and September 2015, street artist Banksy opened a dystopian theme park with Disney-esque castles and theme rides in the seaside town of Weston-super-Mare in southwest England. Attractions included a police van mired in the muck and goo of a forgotten cityscape, and an overturned pumpkin coach and horses with Cinderella tossed half outside of it. These installations, one a commentary on our police state and the other a commentary on celebrity and the tragic death of Princess Diana, were just two of the many pieces at last summer’s temporary "bemusement" park, which Banksy called Dismaland. After its run, the timber and fixtures were sent to a refugee camp—home to over 3,000 people, mostly from Sudan, Eritrea, and Afghanistan—near Calais in France.

Pop-ups like Dismaland are everywhere. The impermanent, unexpected, and even slightly irreverent have become community staples. We can visit pop-up amusement parks, shop at pop-up stores, eat at pop-up restaurants, and stay at pop-up hotels. "Architecture has transitioned into an experience. An experience where, purposefully, it is difficult to tell the difference between the design and the art installation," says Melanie Ryan, Design Principal at the Los Angeles-based experiential and mobile design house Open For Humans.

Drawing on the Motive Force of Architecture: Peter Cook in Conversation with Marcos Cruz

07:00 - 5 January, 2016
Drawing on the Motive Force of Architecture: Peter Cook in Conversation with Marcos Cruz

For architects, drawing is a thinking process. Sketching by hand onto paper without having any predetermined built form in mind is often the springboard for new hypotheses. With the rise of digital representation in architecture, has the computer superseded the hand in the exploration of ideas? This RIBA London seminar sees Professor Sir Peter Cook (co-founder of Archigram, director of CRAB Studio) and Professor Marcos Cruz (Bartlett) discuss the boons and limitations of digital representation in architecture, and the hybrid possibilities of using both in tandem.

Spotlight: Peter Cook

07:00 - 22 October, 2015
Spotlight: Peter Cook, Plug-In City. Image © Peter Cook
Plug-In City. Image © Peter Cook

As one of the founding members of Archigram, the avant-garde futurist architecture group of the 1960s, the British architect, professor, and writer Sir Peter Cook (born 22 October 1936) 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.

VIDEO: Inspired by Archigram, A Humanoid Walking City

00:00 - 8 February, 2014

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.

THIS WAS OUR UTOPIANISM! : An Interview with Peter Cook

01:00 - 31 January, 2014
THIS WAS OUR UTOPIANISM! : An Interview with Peter Cook, Plug-In City. Image © Peter Cook
Plug-In City. Image © Peter Cook

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. 

Five Fantastical Examples of Speculative Architecture

00:00 - 13 December, 2013
Five Fantastical Examples of Speculative Architecture, Manuel Dominguez's Very Large Structure. Image Courtesy of Poliedro
Manuel Dominguez's Very Large Structure. Image Courtesy of Poliedro

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.

A Walking City for the 21st Century

01:00 - 3 November, 2013
A Walking City for the 21st Century, Courtesy of Poliedro
Courtesy of Poliedro

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.

Courtesy of Poliedro Courtesy of Poliedro © Manuel Dominguez / Zuloark © Manuel Dominguez / Zuloark +15

AD Round Up: Unbuilt Classics

00:00 - 14 August, 2013
AD Round Up: Unbuilt Classics, The Plug-In City by Peter Cook, 1964. Image via Archigram Archives
The Plug-In City by Peter Cook, 1964. Image via Archigram Archives

This AD Round Up is dedicated to unbuilt classics, a selection of projects and ideas that, although never built, contributed greatly to the canon of twentieth century architecture. In 1920, Buckminister Fuller designed the Dymaxion House, which displayed forward-thinking innovations in sustainability and prefabrication. In 1924, Le Corbusier’s radical plan for Ville Radieuse (The Radiant City) had an extensive influence upon modern urban planning and led to the development of new high-density housing typologies. In the same year Friedrick Kiesler introduced his "Endless House", the basis for his subsequent manifesto of Correalism. Eight years later in 1932, Philip Johnson and Henry-Russell Hitchcock curated the “Modern Architecture: International exhibition” at the MoMA, introducing the emerging International Style and laying the principles for Modern architecture. And finally, one of Archigram’s most famous utopian visions, the Plug-In City, proposed by Peter Cook in 1964, offered a fascinating new approach to urbanism and reversed traditional perceptions of infrastructure’s role in the city.

AD Classics: The Plug-In City / Peter Cook, Archigram

01:00 - 10 July, 2013
AD Classics: The Plug-In City  / Peter Cook, Archigram , by Peter Cook via Archigram Archives
by Peter Cook via Archigram Archives

AD Classics presents you with great buildings of the past, providing inspiration and motivation for architects to design for the future. But why must inspiration only come from poured concrete and erected walls? For this edition of AD Classics, we share a work, the Plug-In City, by the avant-garde group Archigram. Though never built, their projects and ideas provoked  debates, combining architecture, technology and society; when Plug-In City was proposed in 1964, it offered a fascinating new approach to urbanism, reversing traditional perceptions of infrastructure’s role in the city.  

More on this radical project after the break...

by Peter Cook via Archigram Archives by Peter Cook via Archigram Archives by Peter Cook via Archigram Archives by Peter Cook via Archigram Archives +15

Arup Envisions the Skyscrapers of 2050

00:00 - 18 February, 2013
Arup Envisions the Skyscrapers of 2050, Courtesy of Arup
Courtesy of Arup

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...