things magazine / about / what's new? / archive / photos / projects / order / rss / search
photography from the pre-flickr era
projects, scans and collections
Where is things 19/20?
What is things magazine?
The Pelican Project
thingsmagazine.tumblr.com
external links
0lll
2 or 3 things I know
aalog
actar
adam curtis
agence eureka
aggregat 4/5/6
alice the architect
all about nothing (x)
all things considered (x)
alphaville
alttext
ambit magazine
anarchitecture
and another thing
anti-mega
apothecary's drawer
arcspace
arch daily
archinect
archidose
archiveteam
architects' journal
architect's newspaper blog
architectural review
architectural ruminations
architecture.mnp
archnewsnow
arkitektur
art fag city
art is everywhere
art newspaper
arts journal
artnotes
ashleyb
atelier a+d
ateliermob
atlas (t)
atlas obscura
badaude
bad british architecture
bifurcated rivets
the big picture
blanketfort
bldg blog
blissblog
b'blog of 'israeli
boing boing
b******* to architecture
books from finland
booooooom
bottom drawer (x)
bouphonia
bowblog
bradley's almanac
buchanansmith
butterpaper
cabinet magazine
cabinet of wonders
candyland (x)
cartoonist (the)
cartype
caterina
city of sound
city comforts
collision detection
conscientious
continuity in architecture
coromandal
core77
coroflot
cosmopolitan scum
coudal
creative review blog
curious expeditions
daily jive
dancing bears (x)
daniel eatock
dark roasted blend
david thompson
death by architecture
delicious
delicious ghost
deputy dog (x)
derelict london
designboom
design bivouac
design observer
dezain
dezeen
diamond geezer
digitally distributed environments
diskant
efimera
eliot shepard
ephemera
excitement machine
eye of the goof
fantastic journal
fed by birds
feuilleton
ftrain
fireland
first drafts
five foot way
Ffffound!
further
future feeder
gadgets.fosfor.se
gapers block
giornale nuovo
greg
grow-a-brain
haddock
halvorsen
hat projects
hchamp
hello beautiful!
hot wheels
htc experiments
hyperkit
hyperreal and supercool
i like
iconeye.com
incoming signals
infinite thought
inhabitat
the interior prospect
irregular orbit
iso50
jean snow
joe moran's blog
josh rubin
judit bellostes
kanye west
kazys
keep left london
kosmograd
kottke
landliving
languagehat
largehearted boy
last plane to jakarta
lewism
life without buildings
lightningfield (x)
limited language (x)
literary saloon
loca london
london architecture diary
london review of books
low tech magazine
made by machines for people
made in china '69
magCulture
making light
mananarama
map room
material world
mcsweeneys
men's vogue daily
metafilter
metafilter projects
microkhan
militant esthetix
millennium people
mimoa
miss representation
mocoloco
moosifer jones' grouch
monocle
monoscope
mountain 7
mrs deane
music thing (x)
myrtle street
netdiver
no, 2 self
nothing to see here
noisy decent graphics
noticias arquitectura
NTK
nyclondon
obscure store
obsessive consumption
one plus one equals three
oobject
open brackets (x)
ouno design
overmorgen (x)
panopticist
parenthetically's
partIV (x)
pcl linkdump
the peel tapes
perpenduum
personism
platforma arquitectura
plasticbag (x)
pointingit (x)
polar intertia
plep
print fetish
quiet feather (x)
raccoon
rashomon
re: design news
reference library
rock, paper, shotgun
rodcorp
rogue semiotics
rolu
rossignol
rotational
route 79
russell davies
sachs report
salon
samuel pepys' diary
school of life
scrubbles
segal books
sensing architecture
sensory impact
sesquipedalist
sevensevennine
shape and colour
sharpeworld
shift
shorpy
sit down man, you're...
slow web
snopes
space and culture
spambot_stopper
speak up
spillway
spitting image
strange attractor
strange harvest
strange maps
strawdogs
subterranea britannica
subtopia
sugar-n-spicy
supercolossal
superspatial
swapatorium
swiss miss
tecnologia obsoleta
tecznotes
telstar logistics
tesugen
textism
that's how it happened
the art of where
the deep north
the letter
the model city
the moment blog
the morning news
the nonist
the northern light
the one train
the serif
the silver lining
the white noise revisited
they rule
things to look at
this isn't London
tom phillips
tomorrow's thoughts today
transpontine
turquoise days (x)
typographica
urban cartography
urbantick
vitamin q
voyou desoeuvre
vwork
wallpaper
we make money not art
we will become
weblogs.com
weburbanist
where (x)
white noise of everyday life
wikipedia
wikio
witold riedel
whole lotta nothing
wood s lot
wrong distance
xblog


weblog archives
eXTReMe Tracker
Wednesday, January 16, 2008


The general consensus amongst architects and historians is that Cedric Price's Fun Palace of 1964 was a primary influence on Rogers and Piano's 1977 Centre Georges Pompidou. In a sense, it was the genesis of the utopian ideal of the cultural building as playground, one that is still beloved by architects, urbanists and city planners. The lineage between the two projects appears direct, as both use a lightweight high-tech aesthetic and free floorplan, a non-hierarchical interior for various community and artistic uses. The Pompidou, although completed in the 70s, is often referred to as the quintessential 60s building, in spirit if not in precise chronological time.

We don't deny that Price was influential, far more so, in fact, than his scant built oeuvre would ever suggest. Like many of the grand figures of twentieth century art history who are undergoing a small scale revival on weblogs, flickr sets and image accumulation sites (the modern equivalent of organising for the private publication of a folio of images), Price built very little but generated a huge amount of iconic imagery (in much the same vein as Archigram, with whom Price was loosely affiliated). We once saw him get caught in a set of automatic doors on Tottenham Court Road.

Price's most interesting - and apparently prescient - concepts include the Fun Palace (see also this collection of Fun Palace images at Quotesque), a shed of infinite possibilities, lightweight, ultimately disposable but always responsive to the changing needs of a leisure-orientated culture. The title of Stanley Mathews' piece at Audacity.org rather sums it up: From Agit-Prop to Free Space, and charts how Price's ideas for the conversion of abandoned industry into zones of education, leisure and technological innovation were about ten years ahead of their time. By the time the UK woke up to its large swathes of post-industrial wasteland in the early 80s, there was little enthusiasm for any utopian, architect-led solution, so the whole problem was simply shifted over to the private sector to sort out, with predictably mediocre results.

The visions of Price, Archigram, et al, have had more of an influence on children's soft play centres than on romantic, nomadic combinations of architecture and machinery - like the Manned Cloud proposed by designer Jean-Marie Massaud ('Manned Cloud is an alternative project around leisure and travelling in all its form, economic and experimental, still with the idea of lightness, human experience and life scenarios as the guiding principles. The spiral of Archimedes is the driving force of this airship in the form of a whale that glides through the air.')

This isn't just anti-technological humbug, it's simply the observation that the best laid plans and ambitions of the more technologically determinist architects and designers have a strange way of turning round and biting us. So it goes that rather than live in a society punctuated by vast structures aimed at enhancing social cohesion and the quality of our leisure time, we've ended up with malls and Wacky Warehousess, both of which bear not only an ideological link but a visual one to Price's InterAction Centre in Kentish Town (demolished 2003, Fun Barns still extant). Isn't a ball pit just a mass-market, plasticised version of the soft environments pushed by the likes of everyone from Panton to Conran (check the web exhibition 'Conversation Pits and Cul-de-sacs - Dutch architecture of the 1970s'.

Still, influence is everything in a world of quotes, verbal and visual. The O.C. Fun Palace Project (pdf) is a quasi-tongue in cheek call for the transposition of Price's 'temporal, multi-programmed, 24-hour entertainment centre' to the mall-swamped landscape of Orange County (at girlwonder). The recent spate of public art installations, follies, panopticons and sitooteries shows that surprise and delight is still supposed to have a place in the modern world. Sadly, although Price ultimately envisioned a wholly technologised modern world, his ideals have been enthusiastically taken up by advocates of privatised play spaces, for both adults and children.

The paradox of modernism is its innate seriousness, because any form of frivolity is inevitably co-opted as a means of selling something. Sometimes this is tacitly understood - the malls of Victor Gruen, an idealist who ultimately decided to just go with the flow, or the constantly evolving amusement park aesthetic. Even Price's much-vaunted 'Magnets', the project he was working on at the time of his death, predicted the private sector's unsubtle lunge towards co-opting public space for the means of stimulating advertising. Installations and events are sponsorship opportunities, first and foremost, while the spontaneity of street happenings and theatres has spawned the genre known as guerilla advertising. The modern city is almost entirely magnetised, but we've been polarised to be attracted to everything.

*

Other things. More Price online: a blog on the work of Gordon Pask, Cedric Price and John Frazer (the website of "Envisioning an evolving architecture: The encounters of Gordon Pask, Cedric Price and John Frazer", a PhD Dissertation by Goncalo Furtado Lopes at UCL) / Heresy Corner, a weblog worth a read / a gallery of images of Pimlico School, a risky building with just weeks left to live / build your own modernist pavilion / all about Trailing Spouse Syndrome / guitar notes by David Gedge at Something and Nothing / Five Unbelievably Cool Research Facilities. Mad scientists are alive and well.