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).
Having taught architecture for almost fifty years, Sir Peter Cook has seen generations of architects go from student to high-profile practitioner. In almost half a century, though, architecture education has not particularly moved on: “I don’t see the general situation as being any more progressive than it was when I was a student,” he says.
Cook tells ArchDaily that instead of focusing on curriculum, structure and countless other preoccupations of many schools, “my experience is that doesn’t matter, it depends who’s teaching and how enthusiastic they are and whether they understand people,” adding that “a really good architecture school is like a village,” with tutors who simply don’t go home because they are enjoying it so much (or perhaps for other, less innocent reasons).
In addition, Cook also explains that there is potential for a radical shift in the understanding of architecture education, so that we think of it not only as a route into an architectural career, but rather as a route into a whole host of other jobs. ”I know people who have science degrees but they actually organize railways,” he says. “There’s a role for a wing of architectural education at a certain point to take off and say, ‘that person is never going to design buildings, but a certain form of architectural education can enable them to look at the world in more depth.’”
From the architect. Created for Barcelona‘s BCN RE.SET festival organized this year by the Fundació Enric Miralles as part of the city’s Tricentenari BCN celebrations, this installation by Yael Reisner and Peter Cook responds to the theme of ‘democracy’. The design, titled “Take My Hand” takes inspiration from a number of factors - notably the location of the site outside Barcelona’s Civil Registration building, and the idea that the protection of human rights and civil liberties is one of the fundamental tenets of democracy.
The installation is therefore designed as a space to be used in marriage ceremonies and a celebration of human rights through civil weddings. Reisner explains that “the option of a civil marriage in many countries opened new possibilities for interfaith marriages, non-religious marriages, and same sex marriages.”
More on the installation after the break
Every year, citizens of Catalonia commemorate the events of September 11th 1714, a key date in the War of the Spanish Succession that has come to symbolize what Voltaire called “the Barcelonans’ extreme love of freedom.” With this year marking the 300th anniversary of these events, Barcelona Cultura enlisted the Fundació Enric Miralles to curate 7 public installations around the city as part of its Tricentenari BCN program.
The result is BCN RE.SET, organized by Benedetta Tagliabue of the Fundació Enric Miralles and stage director Àlex Ollé, which invited guest architects from countries all over the world to colloborate with local universities and create installations symbolizing 6 political and ideological concepts: identity, freedom, Europe, diversity, democracy and memory. These installations will be in place until September 11th. Read on after the break for descriptions of all 6 installations.
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.
Last September 25th, at Bartlett School of Architecture, the Graduate Program Exhibition was inaugurated. The same day, Peter Cook gave by himself the “Multicoloured Ear”, (the physical icon coming from the fact that exhibition was taking place at the former Ear Hospital building) for the Special Peter Cook Prize of this year, to the postgraduate student Maj Plemenitas with his research project 10⁻⁹ ]LINK[ 10⁹.
The Southern California Institute of Architecture is pleased to present London Eight, curated by renowned English architect Sir Peter Cook. London Eight presents three main exhibitors, teachers from the Bartlett School of Architecture in London chosen by Peter Cook, each of whom have nominated a ‘new face’ exhibitor.
The exhibition examines recent works from the teachers/students and will include three-dimensional objects, bas-relief items, digital and handmade drawings and collages, projections, and models.