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WARREN CHALK

*
PETER COOK

from a poem by David Greene published in the first issue of Archigram magazine in 1961.
DENNIS CROMPTON
DAVID GREENE
RON HERRON
MIKE WEBB
1

THE SAME
“ YOU CAN ROLL OUT STEEL – ANY LENGTH
YOU CAN BLOW UP A BALLOON – ANY SIZE
YOU CAN MOULD PLASTIC – ANY SHAPE

IT’S ALL
BLOKES THAT BUILT THE FORTH BRIDGE
THEY DIDN’T WORRY”. *
This breezy approach to architecture and design typifies
the anything-is-possible spirit of the six young
architects who came together in London in the early
1960s to form Archigram: Warren Chalk, Peter Cook,
Dennis Crompton, David Greene, Ron Herron and Mike Webb.
Weary of what Peter Cook described as the “continuing
European tradition of well-mannered but gutless
architecture” and frustrated by the way in which
so-called ‘modern’ architecture seemed to have betrayed
the bravest of modernism’s philosophies, Archigram set
out to stir architecture from its slumbers, inject it
with new vitality and dramatically expand its horizons.

Responding to comic books and the Beatles, STIR ARCHITECTURE FROM IT'S
space travel and moon landings, new technology SLUMBERS, INJECT IT WITH
and science fiction, the group embraced the NEW VITALITY AND DRAMATICALLY
EXPAND ITS HORIZONS
technological advances of the 1960s and early
1970s with unabashed optimism. Archigram drew The determination of Chalk, Cook,
inspiration from determined experimenters in Crompton, Greene, Herron and Webb
the fields of art, architecture and engineering, that architecture should break out
celebrating and expanding the ideas of such of its narrow-minded, self-referential
pioneers as Friedrich Kiesler, Barnes Wallis, confines and look beyond ponderous
Buckminster Fuller and Cedric Price. Urging buildings which “just get in the way”
architects to remember that “when you are has ensured that the noise Archigram
looking for a solution to what you have been made during the 1960s and early
told is an architectural problem – the solution 1970s still reverberates today –
may not be a building”, the group broadcast not just in architectural circles,
its ideas through its own magazine, teaching, but in the wider world of popular
exhibitions, multimedia installations and culture which its members so
countless collages and drawings. enthusiastically embraced.
"
2

MAGAZINE

THE FIRST ISSUE OF ARCHIGRAM MAGAZINE WAS PUBLISHED


IN 1961 BY PETER COOK, DAVID GREENE AND MIKE WEBB,
1961
SOON AFTER GRADUATION.

THE MAGAZINE WAS INTEGRAL TO THEIR EFFORTS TO "CONTINUE


1970

THE POLEMIC AND ENTHUSIASM OF ARCHITECTURE SCHOOL".

A COMBINATION OF THE WORDS “ARCHITECTURE” AND “TELEGRAM,”


ITS NAME WAS INTENDED TO CONVEY A SENSE OF URGENCY.
COOK, GREENE AND WEBB SOUGHT THE COOPERATION OF THREE
LONDON COUNTY COUNCIL ARCHITECTS WHOSE WORK THEY ADMIRED:
WARREN CHALK, DENNIS CROMPTON, AND RON HERRON.

THE SIX JOINED FORCES, COLLECTIVELY ADOPTING


THE NAME ARCHIGRAM.

The multimedia presentation, Arena, introduces the


Archigram group and the cultural context in which it
evolved. At its centre is the four-screen Archigram Opera,
first made in 1972. By then, all nine issues of Archigram
1972
Feeling the need to distill some of their
magazine had been published and the group’s work had been preoccupations and statements, they
seen all over the world in exhibitions, books, magazines and embarked on a long discussion about
lectures. Archigram’s ideas had been widely absorbed and producing an Archigram ‘roadshow’.
then imitated, misinterpreted and reviled by other architects. The result was the forty-five minute
The six members often found themselves travelling to Opera. As with most Archigram
architectural schools and societies around the world productions – such as competition
heavily laden with boxes of slides. entries, mock-ups, presentations,
models, machines and robots – the
Opera was to a large extent the product

ARENA multi
media
of Dennis Crompton’s facility with
micro-switches, carousel slide projectors,
dark room apparatus, layers of acetate
and rubber grommets.
1967

For Arena, the expanded version of the Opera shown here, the
soundtrack and the slides were copied directly from originals used
by the group thirty years ago. The video monitors show three
films made during the days of Archigram magazine. The film
about Archigram was made for television in 1966 by Denis Postle.
I Remember Architecture was compiled by David Greene and
Mike Myers from a selection of material produced during the early
1970s. The untitled film featuring the Popular Pak with street scenes
and robots was made by Archigram and shown in its section of the
1967 Milan Triennale exhibition.
Like a vast hub, Warren Chalk and Ron
Herron’s 1963 City Interchange is a
megastructure consisting of a central
node with transportation conduits
"
3
radiating in every direction, above and

MONTREAL below ground. It provides access to rapid


transport and communication links with
remote population centres and contains

TOWER facilities for aircraft and hovercraft,


with slower methods of transportation such
as monorails, buses, cars, and pedestrian

1963
tubes operating on the lower levels. The
structure itself serves as an information
transmitter: its towers are communication
and broadcasting beacons as well as
For a brief period in the early 1960s facilities for transport control.
all the members of Archigram were Resembling a vital organ with a network
employed by the special Design Group of arteries, City Interchange expresses
of Taylor Woodrow, the construction Archigram’s belief “in the city as a
company. Taylor Woodrow asked the unique organism,” an idea more thoroughly
group, led by the architect and designer explored in the group’s Living City
Theo Crosby, to enter an internal exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary
competition for a public entertainment Arts, London, in June 1963.
complex built around a concrete
television tower which was to be Living City was the first project to be
the central feature of the forthcoming executed by the whole Archigram group.
Montreal Expo. Its aim was to capture and celebrate
life in existing cities, rather than
Peter Cook’s design was selected for to propose plans for new ones. It was
further development, which included not an exhibition about architecture:
the making of a model by Dennis “Architecture is only a small part of
Crompton. In Cook’s design, the the city environment in terms of real
tower is treated as an enormous significance. The object was to determine
tree onto which temporary the effect total environment has on the
exhibition elements – an human condition, the responses it generates
observatory, restaurant and – and to capture, to express, the
exhibition centre – could be hung. vitality of the city. We must perpetuate
Once the Expo was over these this vitality or the city will die at
elements could be adjusted, replaced the hands of the bad planners and
or removed. The idea of diagonally- architect-aesthetes.”
linked replaceable component parts
anticipated Archigram's later ideas
for a Plug-In City.
" CAPS
4& ULES and t on
he

le
POD ui t a lo
Warren
S S While Ron Herron’s earlier Walking

c
Cha
in 1964 lk developed h City addresses mobile architecture
project. in parallel w is Capsule Hom

i
on a grand scale, Mike Webb’s
T ith e
John Gle wo years after the Plug-In C s

h
1966 Cushicle provides for the
of the e n n h th e U it y
arth an ad completed S astronaut needs of individual wanderers by

s
the firs d with fiv th e first o enabling them to carry a complete
t ey rb
was ins moon landing ears to go bef it environment on their backs.

u
, the Ca
pired by
of livin tha psule ore Conceived as a nomadic unit,
g conta t most advanc Home

The C
iner: th e the Cushicle inflates when needed
e s p a c e d fo r m and is fully serviced, carrying
capsule
. food, water, radio, miniature
The project
explores som projection television and heating
key principl e of Archigra
es: mobilit m’s apparatus. The radio and television
expendabilit y, adaptability, and
y. E are contained inside the helmet
is industrial ach Capsule Home
space-saving ly prefabricated in a and the food and water supply
features and design with fold-away carried in pod attachments.
a
The compon clip-on appliance wall. Webb envisaged that, with the
ents are inte provision of service nodes and
and can be re rchangeable
or as the inh placed when outdated additional apparatus, the
abitant’s nee autonomous Cushicle could
ds change.
become part of a larger urban
system of personalised enclosures.

The units can be organised in a cluster: In 1967, Webb took the idea a
plugging into one another to create a step further, designing an
larger structure that can be arranged inflatable suit as a complementary
horizontally or vertically to form a component of the Cushicle.
Capsule Homes Tower. The Suitaloon provides a living
envelope whenever and wherever
desired. It fits the body closely
e
variation on th
David Greene’s e Home is the and, when combined with a
idea of a Capsul phisticated Cushicle, provides all necessary
d, a so
1966 Living Po ler home with services. “EACH SUIT HAS A
take on the trai partitions, PLUG SERVING A SIMILAR
and
inflatable seats stations and FUNCTION TO THE KEY TO YOUR
an d ea ting FRONT DOOR,” wrote Webb. “YOU
mobile work hines to maxim
ise
a range of mac conven ie nc e. CAN PLUG INTO YOUR FRIEND
autonomy and nsers and AND YOU WILL BOTH BE IN
ispe
These included ms, climate ONE ENVELOPE, OR YOU CAN
sp os ab le ite PLUG INTO ANY ENVELOPE,
silos for di an d “automatic
l appa ra tu s STEPPING OUT OF YOUR SUIT
contro uipment”.
body-cleaning eq spended WHICH IS LEFT CLIPPED ON TO
can be su
The Living Pod e THE OUTSIDE READY TO STEP
Pl ug -In urban structur INTO WHEN YOU LEAVE. THE
within a an ks
en landscape. Th PLUG ALSO SERVES AS A MEANS
or can sit in op stable legs, the Pod
to its adju a forty
OF CONNECTING ENVELOPES
can be sited on TOGETHER TO FORM LARGER
e or in up to
degree slop ater.
SPACES. VARIOUS MODELS OF
fiv e fe et of w
CUSHICLE ENVELOPE AND SUIT
WOULD OF COURSE BE AVAIL-
ABLE, RANGING FROM SUPER
SPORTS TO FAMILY MODELS.”
“IF IT WASN’T FOR MY
SUITALOON I WOULD HAVE TO
BUY A HOUSE.”
PLUG-IN CITY # PLUG-IN UNIVERSITY #
WALKING CITY #######
Increasingly interested in the idea of expendable Archigram’s interest in
architecture, Archigram began to speculate nomadism took several giant
about new urban environments which could steps further with Ron Herron’s
be programmed and structured to facilitate 1964 Walking City. Herron
change. Plug-in City was a collection of different envisaged whole cities gliding
proposals developed by Warren Chalk, Peter across the landscape, pausing
Cook and Dennis Crompton. It was designed to plug into utilities and
for obsolescence. Even its main ‘frame’ – information networks at
a multilayered network of tubes carrying chosen locations. Walking City
essential services and means of transport – could be seen as a frightening
was intended to last no longer than forty years, expression of what David
while individual housing units, live-work spaces, Greene called the “current
plug-in shops and rentable offices were to be cultural condition of
updated more frequently. Cranes operating from restlessness” or as an eager
a railway at the apex of the structure would anticipation of a mobile world
move different units in and out of position. with a global information
network in which political
The Plug-in University, developed by Peter Cook boundaries and cultural
in 1963 with a group of students analysing differences would melt away.
the future of universities, was a more specific
exploration of the Plug-in concept. Each student
is allocated a standard metal box that can be
located anywhere on the tension skin-covered
decks which form the University’s campus.
The campus thus becomes a nomadic plain with
students moving their boxes from place to place.

LOGPLUGS# ROKPLUGS # ROBOTS#


MOWBOTS# THE BOTTERY ######
“Doing your own Discreetly installed all across the world,
Logplugs could be located by the traveller using
thing is important. a mobile dashboard and homing device. Having
Unfortunately, however, in terms
plugged into the log and selected the required
of doing your own thing, architecture
services, the traveller would pay for them using
is clearly not working”, wrote
an attached credit card machine. “The whole of
David Greene in his Gardener’s
London or New York will be available in the
Notebook published in a 1969 issue
world’s leafy hollows, deserts and flowered
of Architectural Design. To help
meadows”. Greene speculated that eventually
alleviate the problem Greene devised
it would be possible to create “a fully serviced
the Logplug. It could provide all the
natural landscape”, or Bottery, in which the
utilities and communication links
natural world looks just as it should but is
a modern traveller out exploring
serviced by Unseen Networks, otherwise
the wilderness might require,
known as L.A.W.U.N. – Locally Available
while leaving the beauty and
World Unseen Networks.
serenity of the natural
surroundings undisturbed.
“Every House now contains crude robots
everybody wants a house full of robots
but no one wants it to look like a house full
of robots –so why not forget about the house
altogether and just have a garden and a
collection of robots” As well as a Logplug –
or, if the landscape dictated, a Rokplug - your
garden (your L.A.W.U.N.) might need a Mowbot:

"
“No sweat, set the grass cutting height on the
dial and it will sense when the grass is needing

5 a trim … it’s invisible, it’s not a piece of


permanent lawn furniture”.
"
6
IDEAS CIRCUS
After Archigram
After the last issue of the magazine, the group continued
to work under the name Archigram until the mid 1970s,
completing such projects as an adventure playground
for Milton Keynes and a swimming pool for the pop singer
AND
Rod Stewart. Archigram members always worked individually
as well as on occasional group projects. There was only
a short period – two years between 1962 and 1964 – when
all its members were in the same place at the same time.
By 1976 they had disbanded Archigram, but remained
close friends.
Warren Chalk continued to write and teach in North
America as well as the UK, principally at the Architectural
Anticipating a future in which education would be dependent on Association, London. He died in 1987.
access to technology and on interconnectivity between learning
Peter Cook is currently Bartlett Professor of Architecture
resources, Peter Cook conceived his Ideas Circus in 1967 as a In 1969, Archigram was one of eleven invited at University College London. In partnership with Colin
means of sharing and exchanging information among distant practices involved in the Monte-Carlo competition Fournier, he recently completed the Kunsthaus in Graz,
groups of people. As the Circus – a kind of travelling university to design an entertainment complex on a Austria. He will be the curator of the British Pavilion at
campus – moves from town to town it plugs into a technology reclaimed stretch of Monaco’s shoreline. Peter the Venice International Biennale of Architecture, 2004.
Cook, Dennis Crompton and Ron Herron thrashed
network which will remain in place after the Circus has moved Having worked for many years at the Architectural
out their entry with the help of Colin Fournier
on. Whenever a new host or member plugs in, the communication Association, where, in addition to teaching, he was
and the engineer Frank Newby in a room on the responsible for the school’s many publications,
and information network expands organically. top floor of the Architectural Association in Dennis Crompton now tutors the Masters programme
London, which they had borrowed for the summer. at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College,
Archigram invented another peripatetic super-structure in Instant London. He continues to design books and exhibitions.
City, designed by Peter Cook, Dennis Crompton and Ron Herron While rival proposals disrupted the shoreline with
multiple structures, Archigram’s design enhanced David Greene is Professor of Architecture at the
in 1968. Transported by airships and trucks, Instant City can be University of Westminster, London. He continues to
the natural beauty of the coast by burying the
unfolded and quickly erected to form a sprawling entertainment write and to develop collaborative theoretical projects
architecture beneath the earth and simultaneously
complex bringing news, events and a taste of urban life to remote under the name Casa Verde.
creating a park above ground. The hidden under-
areas. The result of a grant awarded to Archigram by Chicago’s ground chamber – which Newby succeeded in Ron Herron taught at the Architectural Association from
Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Arts in 1968, persuading the group should be circular rather 1965 to 1993. In 1981, with his sons Andrew and Simon,
Instant City sought to reconcile the conflicting desires: to travel than rectangular for greater structural efficiency he formed Herron Associates, designing the headquarters
and to stay put; to live in the city and to live in the country; – was designed to accommodate a wide variety of Imagination on Store Street, London. In 1993 he became
of events, from sports competitions to banquets Professor and Head of the School of Architecture at the
to experience change and to preserve tradition. University of East London. Ron Herron died in 1994.
to art exhibitions, in a space adaptable to any
situation. Features: Monte-Carlo was to provide Mike Webb has lived for many years in New York. He has
state-of-the-art multimedia technology, modular taught at Cooper Union, Columbia, Barnard and Princeton
furniture, mobile facilities, plug-in accessories, and Universities and has exhibited his work widely, both in the
robotic servicing systems. Aside from the chamber US and in Europe.
itself, there was no architecture - just an infinitely
adaptable kit of parts.
Archigram’s winning entry, consisting of 57
sheets of drawings demonstrating six typical but
very different ways in which the space could be
used, was eventually abandoned following a
change of government in Monaco in 1974.

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