Posts tagged with "Archigram":

How architects should reconsider the way they work

When you next see someone using a mobile phone—in the street or in a country lane, on a bus or a plane—go up to this person and ask, ‘Where are you going?’… and if the reply is ‘I’m going to my office,’ on no account say, ‘But you are already in your office.’

—David Greene, Archigram, 1999

Here, Archigram’s David Greene concludes a polemical argument for a 21st-century architecture liberated from market capitalism by its technologically enabled transience. For Greene, the then-still-not-ubiquitous—nor smart—mobile phone held the potential to untether global financiers from a fixed place of work materialized in architecture.

Almost 20 years later, rereading this fable, we find its uncanny prescience accurately describes our current condition. A combination of economic pressures and accelerated technologies has transformed virtually every inch of the planet, public and private, into an office. We never leave the office. Every profession has been subjected to the tether of the phone, and those, such as architecture—already defined by its culture of late nights and long hours—ever more so. It is a culture into which generations of architects have been initiated in school. Yet until recently, it has been little questioned. Students are expected to arrive to final reviews with the minimum possible sleep. Recent grads flock to offices that offer the benefits of “free dinner” and paid taxi rides home when the workday extends to benchmark hours late into the evening and night. As ethical imperatives have entered into architectural practices (piggybacking on environmental considerations), exploitation, environmental and human, and physical and immaterial labor become issues we can no longer ignore.

Peggy Deamer’s The Architect as Worker asks us to address these concerns, to unflinchingly consider the way we work, concomitant with the systems of labor that we enable. Following on the heels of two other edited volumes she published on the economic and social structures that define the profession, this 250-page book with 17 contributors is a denser and more polemical exploration of the protocols and practices that structure the labor of architectural design and construction. Deamer has organized the texts into five sections that consider the relation of architecture and labor in theory and in practice. The perspectives traverse the broader issues of defining immaterial labor to discipline-specific speculations that suggest new models for the profession. Fittingly, the essays begin with the implication for the university and end with practice. Some of the essays are more philosophical (Franco Berardi), others historical (Richard Biernacki, Andreas Rumpfhuber), or contemporary and pragmatic (Deamer, Neil Leach, and Phillip Bernstein). Though the sections do not specifically seek to respond to each other, the connections and resonances that emerge between essays are some of the more satisfying moments in the book.

Whereas Berardi’s contribution brings our consciousness to the exploitation labor of the academic, Daniel van der Velden and Vinca Kruk of Metahaven do so through a drift through various observations on design culture and its attendant value-added design surfaces as commodity objects and their relation on politics and society.

Far from a rant about low pay and long hours (not that these conditions aren’t substantiated as a genuine problem) or a what-if exposé on the “submission of knowledge to economics,” the essays collectively look at the larger shift in how work has changed in a post-Fordist economy. The tone remains positive as some of the essays pose alternatives (solutions) to the current conditions, while others explore the underlying structures of the discipline in an enlightening and shocking depth (Pier Vittorio Aureli, Mabel Wilson, Jordan Carver, Kadambari Baxi), revealing the global network of actors involved in even the smallest of projects. We are left with the uncertain awareness that the information age is also a knowledge economy—and therefore a commodity, like any other.

Some essays manage to do both, such as Leach’s The (ac)Cred(itation) Card, which offers a rethinking of educational models to address the ironic disconnect between accreditations boards’ ever-tightening grip on disciplinary educational and licensing criteria while the professional as such is increasingly marginalized in the building industry and the minimum basic educational standards are increasingly irrelevant or insufficient for students. As well, Deamer’s own essay is both a broad survey of the history of artisanal work and an exploration of the transformation of architectural work by the knowledge economy. For Deamer, the shifting of the architect from object designer to project designer offers an opportunity to change the compensation structure for firms and individuals.

Rather than devolving into a solipsistic rumination, the essays collectively ask us to shift not the way we work, but how we conceptualize our contribution and place in the global economy. The book provides a mounting argument against architecture as a “calling” (page 61), revealing the exploitation we have been subjected to as well as that which we have indirectly subjected others to. Given the density of the text and imagistic duotone cover photo, one wonders if the book’s primary audience—those who are likely to recognize the image as Hans Hollein’s mobile office from 1973 (complete with landline)—are already are familiar with and sympathetic to the issues it raises. Yet, as a volume that asks the questions of a discipline regarding the work we do and equally the work that our work fosters, it belongs on every architect’s bookshelf.

Win an Archigram collage at the AN Best of Design Awards 2017

Up for grabs at this year's AN Best of Design Awards is a signed 1971 collage from Archigram. Made by Diana Jowsey in Endell Street, Covent Garden—Archigram's London Studio—the collage includes iconic projects from the conceptual architectural group, such as Walking City, Instant City, and Rock Plug, and features drawings from Peter Cook, Warren Chalk, David Greene, Ron Herron, and Michael Webb.  For your chance to win this coveted print, enter the AN Best of Design Awards 2017 where there are 42 categories for submissions. In this the fifth edition of the Awards, winners will receive the signed Archigram print and will also be exposed to 1,000,000 AN readers and members of the A/E/C design community. Other worthy projects will be shared on AN's social media channels and will also be published in a special 2017 Design Annual publication created specifically for AN Best of Design. The awarding jury will judge submissions using several criteria: strength of the presentation, evidence of innovation, creative use of new technology, sustainability, and, most importantly, good design. The jury will be comprised of Morris Adjmi (principal, Morris Adjmi Architects), Matt Shaw (senior editor, The Architect’s Newspaper), Irene Sunwoo (director of exhibitions, GSAPP), Eric Bunge (principal, nARCHITECTS), Nathaniel Stanton ([rincipal, Craft Engineering Studio), Emily Bauer (landscape architect, Bjarke Ingels Group). The 42 categories are: Building of the Year – Northeast, – Mid-Atlantic, – Southeast, – Midwest, – Southwest, – West; Adaptive Restoration; Adaptive Reuse; Architectural Lighting – Indoor; Architectural Lighting – Outdoor; Architectural Representations – Analog; Architectural Representations – Digital; Building Renovation; Civic – Administrative; Civic – Cultural; Civic – Educational; Commercial – Hospitality; Commercial – Office & Retail; Digital Fabrication; Facade; Green Building – Civic and Commercial; Green Building – Residential; Infrastructure; Interior – Residential; Interior – Retail/Hospitality; Interior – Workplace; Landscape – Private; Landscape – Public; Residential – Multi; Residential– Single; Research; New Materials; Commercial/Office; Small Spaces; Student Projects; Temporary Installation; Urban Design; Unbuilt – Commercial; Unbuilt – Residential; Unbuilt – Public, Landscape; Unbuilt – Public, Infrastructure; Young Architects. Eligibility Projects must have been completed within one year’s time of the submission deadline. Landscape projects must have been completed within two year’s time of the submission deadline. The Best Of Design Awards is open to U.S. and international firms (e.g., architects/consultants/engineers/manufacturers), but projects submitted must be located within the United States. Please submit by September 29, 2017, to be in with a chance of winning. More information and how to register can be found at archpaperawards.com/design.

University of Michigan exhibits the work of Archigram

Through February 20th, the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning is exhibiting the work of 1960s avant-garde architecture group Archigram. The show, organized by Archigram member Dennis Crompton, presents exhibition pieces, collages, drawings, and films from the group of six young architects. "In architecture, nothing ages so quickly as visions of the future. But somehow after more than a half-century, Archigram is still ahead of us—still amazing us with its explosive mixture of the carnival and the computer,” said Taubman College’s Interim Dean Robert Fishman. “One of the rare true collaborations in architecture, Archigram’s six founders deployed graphics borrowed from advertising and sci-fi comics to upset the solemnity of 1960s corporate modernism. They conceived the city as a basic power and transportation grid into which people 'plugged-in' a constantly-changing array of mass-produced modules. In this urbanism of constant flux, everyone is an architect." The exhibition fills the two-story space of the university’s Liberty Research Annex. Over-sized drawings backdrop framed original pieces, while large banners hang from the ceiling. Multiple projections play videos made by the group, and mannequins wear bright graphic clothes printed with the group's imagery. The gallery is located at 305 W. Liberty St., Ann Arbor, Michigan and is open to the public Thursday-Sunday, 3:00pm to 7:00pm. The show will be open through February 20th, 2017.

Archigram Portfolio Collection images for sale

The British Archigram group has produced some of the most influential and memorable architecture and urban images of the last fifty years: Plug-In City, Computer City, Instant City, and Temple Island. These and eight more iconic images from the group are now available as signed limited edition (50) prints to purchase. The edition is produced on certified Giclee archival Hahnemuhle German etching paper. You can find pricing and other information on this Archigram Archives Portfolio Collection page of the Archigram website. This is a chance to own these important images for an extremely reasonable price with discounts if you purchase six or more prints.

Architects Get Graphic At The Cleveland Museum of Art

The Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) will be the location for the Graphic Novels / Novel Architecture Symposium on April 1st. Organized by Kent State University College of Architecture & Environmental Design (CAED), the symposium will explore the relationship between architecture and comics. The influence of animation, cartoons, comics, illustrations, and storyboards will be discussed in two sessions and a keynote discussion. Participants will include architects, illustrators, and educators. Graphic Novels / Novel Architecture will be the first event of an annual series that will explore architecture and different narrative media. The first session, starting at 1:00 pm in CMA’s Gartner Auditorium, is entitled "Hot Technology." The session will include short presentations and a discussion between California-based architect Wes Jones, London-based architect and illustrator Alison Sampson, and Archigram’s Michael Webb. The second session, entitled "Cool Diagrams," will start at 3:00 pm. This session will include presentations and a discussion between University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Architecture Director Robert Somol, Jimenez Lai of Bureau Spectacular, and Dutch cultural anthropologist Mélanie van der Hoorn. A closing keynote discussion will feature acclaimed comic book artist Chris Ware and Françoise Mouly, art editor of The New Yorker. The event is free and open to the public, but reservations are encouraged. For those not able to make it to Cleveland, the entire symposium will be live-streamed online. The proceedings will also be archived on video, and produced into a short video documentary. A book is also planned documenting the event.    

On View> Chicago’s Graham Foundation Presents “Everything Loose Will Land”

Everything Loose Will Land Graham Foundation 4 West Burton Place, Chicago Through July 26 Everything Loose Will Land explores the intersection of art and architecture in Los Angeles during the 1970s. The show’s title refers to a Frank Lloyd Wright quote that if you “tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles.” This freeness alludes to the fact that this dislodging did not lead to chaos but rather a multidisciplinary artistic community that redefined LA. The exhibition features one hundred and twenty drawings, photographs, media works, sculptures, prototypes, models, and ephemera. The presentations function as a kind of archive of architectural ideas that connect a variety of disciplines. Projects by Carl Andre, Ed Moses, Peter Alexander, Michael Asher, James Turrell, Maria Nordman, Robert Irwin, Frank Gehry, Richard Serra, Coy Howard, Craig Ellwood, Peter Pearce, Morphosis, Bruce Nauman, Craig Hodgetts, Jeff Raskin, Ed Ruscha, Noah Purifoy, Paolo Soleri, Ray Kappe, Denise Scott Brown, Archigram, L.A. Fine Arts Squad, Bernard Tschumi, Eleanor Antin, Peter Kamnitzer, Cesar Pelli, Andrew Holmes, Elizabeth Orr, and others are explored. Curated by Sylvia Lavin, Director of Critical Studies in the Department of Architecture and Urban Design at UCLA, the show began its journey at the MAK Center for Architecture and then traveled to the Yale School of Architecture before arriving at the Graham Foundation.

Extreme Architecture: Antarctic Research Station Is A Real Life Walking City

The Halley VI Antarctic Research Station designed by British practice Hugh Broughton Architects will be officially opened today. The product of eight years of research and design for extreme climates, the architects claim it is a "laboratory and living accommodation capable of withstanding extreme winter weather, of being raised sufficiently to stay above meters of annual snowfall, and of being relocated inland periodically to avoid being stranded on an iceberg as the floating ice shelf moves towards the sea." But the project bears an uncanny resemblance to Ron Herron's 1964 Walking City project and the project's description is pure Archigram in spirit: "an innovative concept (of) hydraulically elevated ski based modules, ensuring the station can be relocated inland periodically as the ice shelf flows towards the sea. The station combines seven interlinking blue modules used for bedrooms, laboratories, offices and energy plants, with a central two-story red module featuring a double-height light filled social space. Interiors have been specially designed to support crew numbers ranging from 52 in summer to 16 during the three months of total darkness in winter when temperatures at the base drop as low as -56C."

Plug-In City Lives!

Dennis Crompton and Michael Webb plugged into the London launch of the Archigram website on Monday from New York City via a Skype connection to Westminster University. The two Archigrammers were meant to be present at the launch, but the Eyjafjallajökull volcano grounded their planes and kept them from joining Peter Cook and David Greene, who was scheduled to be at the event. So Crompton walked the assembled Londoners through the website from his Skype-enabled computer screen in Lower Manhattan. Crompton pointed out the significant but still burgeoning content to be found on the site and was able to see and hear the audience reacting to the virtual tour on his screen, while the audience watched Dennis and Michael on their large screen. Westminster organizers Kester Rattenbury, Clare Hamman, and Murray Fraser described the cross-Atlantic evening as “very Archigram,” but Cook was not sure if something was missing, and wondered if the real Archigram spirit was not more alive in various out-of-the-way pockets of experiment and energy than on this evening on Regent Street. For his part, Webb thanked those who worked on the site and came out to the event, but Greene was nowhere to be seen or heard—at least on this side of the Atlantic. A second launch in New York with Archigrammers reporting from London is in the works—and perhaps Greene might even walk us through his version of the site?

Archigram Archived

It’s hard to remember that the phenomenally influential Archigram only worked together as a group for two years: 1962–1964. But all six members (four are still living) carried on extremely active practices on their own, sometimes in combinations with other members, and they produced an amazing body of work. The University of Westminster has embarked on an archival project to assemble this creative output in digital format and make it available online. Though this monumental task is far from complete, the university has amassed almost 10,000 images, and will go live with the website on Monday at 7 p.m. London time at a special event. I have been planning on flying over for the occasion, and, should Iceland’s volcanic eruption permit, will be in Westminster to report on it next week.

Megastructures Reload

A derelict old German mint in Berlin has been taken over until November 2 by Megastructure Reloaded an exhibit of  1960's visionary architecture drawings, models, and films. Descending into the mint’s basement/bunker Archigrammer Dennis Crompton has created an installation that includes Yona Friedman’s la Ville Spatiale, a film of the Archigram guys walking around The Centre Pompidou with Cedric Price, and a toy-like model of a Constant Nieuwenhuijs skyscraper. The dilapidated ground floor has series of interpretations of the themes by young megatsructuralists like New Yorkers Tobias Putrih and Katrin Sigurdardottir. A weekend symposium with young architects and activist planners took place in an inflatable bubble by raumlabor_berlin who provided wonderful waffles with fresh figs and pomegranates.  Planners serving waffles in their own inflatable, transportable bubble. Something funny is happening in Berlin.