miércoles, 2 de abril de 2008

El Sueño de la Anti-Arquitectura de Cedric Price que anticipó al Centro Beaubourg

Activity and Change, 1962
[An advocate of Fulleresque 're-think', expediency and expendability, Cedric Price (b 1934, Stone, Staffordshire) has few extant building to his name as a matter of principle. He favours non-architectural solutions to the accommodation of human activities and denigrates the limitations of permanent and monumental buildings. Price contributed to Archigram, in which this text appeared.]
An expendable aesthetic requires no flexibility in the artifact but must include time as an absolute factor.
Planned obsolescence is the order within such a discipline - shoes; motor cars; magazines.
The validity of such an aesthetic is only achieved if replacement is a factor of the overall design process, The mobile home presupposes a continuance of production of such units ...
In all such cases the artifact at any one time is complete in itself and the overall design problem requires a solution to the organization of such units- flowers in a bowl; caravans on a site.
In allowing for change, flexibility, it is essential that the variation provided does not impose a discipline which may only be valid at the time of design.
It is easier to allow for individual flexibility than organisational change - the expandable house; the multi-use of fixed volumes; the transportable controlled environment. The massing of living units in single complex [sic] presupposes the continuance of physically linked activity complexes ...
Physical forms as known are often the by-product of social, economic, technical conditions no longer relevant. Planning for activities must allow for change not only in content but in means of operation. Disciplines can only be based on foreseeable change and thereafter only order and not direction of change should be established.
Extraído de Peter Cook (ed), Archigram 2, Archigram (London), undated, unpaginated. © Cedric Price.
Extraído del libro: Charles Jencks.Theories and Manifestoes of Contemporary Architecture. Sussex 1997, Academy Editions

Cedric Price’s Fun Palace
[artículo aparecido en la revista Domus en Enero de 2004]
It is possible to construct an anti-building?
Is it possible to be an anti-architect?
Cedric Price has shown that it is. He was present during the great changes that took place in English society in the 1960s and 1970s, and indeed played the role of the "anti-architect".
This is the definition used by Price to erase the traditional sense of the architectural discipline and, instead, sustain a form of constructing bound to the changing needs of society and individuals, attentive to technology, which pays the price of time and can, therefore, wear and disappear.
His celebrated project for a Fun Palace, a building serving leisure, conceived with the theatre director Joan Littlewood, was developed with repeated studies and variations between 1961 and 1972. The last building application, rejected, is dated 1974.
Fun Palace, Cedric Price's most celebrated work is both famous and famously misunderstood.
Whether characterized as a giant toy or as a building-sized transformable machine, the project's great interest for architect has always resided in its radical reliance on structure and technology. But Fun Palace explored issues, crossed boundaries, and attempted to address social and political issues that go far beyond the typical bounds of architecture. Above all, and in spite of its title, the project was absolutely serious, not at all the pie-in-sky fantasy that it is often described to be.
Buildings as seemingly diverse as Piano & Rogers' Centre Pompidou and Diller & Scofidio's Blur Building owe their existence to its example. Fun Palace is inspired by the egalitarian philosophy of 18th century English pleasure ground, such as Vauxhall and Ranelagh, with their sprawling spaces for strolling, amusement, and gossip. Cedric Price and his many collaborators developed and trasformed this model through the application of Cybernetic theory, avant-garde theatrical principles, up-to-the-minute technology, and a free-spirited, Monty Pythonesque sense of fun. Cedric Price and his client, the renowned theatre producer Joan Littlewood, proposed an educational and recreational centre in which users would actively participate, instead of passively receiving edutainment. Based on this programme, Cedric Price responded with an architectural solution that would have permitted the building itself to change in response to patrons' wishes. Attempt to realize the project dragged on for more than ten years, during which efforts to secure both a site and adequate financing failed in the face of church opposition and lack of political imagination.
Anti-buildings and anti-Architects
During a drive up to Cambridge in October 1961, the internationally renown British theatre director Joan Littlewood tells her new friend Cedric Price about her life-long dream. She envisages an alternative kind of social space, an experimental space where the public can freely interact in new
ways, endlessly stimulating their creativity and broadening their knowledge. As if in passing, she wonders whether architecture might play a role. Price, a 26 year old architect, doesn’t answer. But soon he quietly starts to design a space that radically challenges most traditional assumptions about architecture. Lacking floors, walls, or a roof, this huge “antibuilding” is a vast mechanism that allows arrays of different kinds of space to be suspended in any position and continuously adjusted, moved or removed according to the changing needs of up to 55,000 simultaneous visitors. The only fixed element is a grid of 75 steel towers that rises high up from a vast horizontal plinth and is straddled by a giant gantry crane
passing overhead. After 10 years, even this framework will go. Fun Palace is to be a celebration of the temporary, a huge machine dedicated to the transformative power of the ephemeral and unpredictable flow of creative forces. Price and Littlewood work on the project for over 5 years in a relentless yet unsuccessful campaign to get it built. The dream remains a dream, but so radical that architecture has yet to recover.
Fun Palace turned out to be a pivotal project of the twentieth-century, yet its reputation was established by a very small set of provocative images and manifesto-like statements. The architect was extremely reluctant to release any images, even to his client. The atmosphere of Cedric Price’s studio was
that of a secret laboratory--endlessly testing different possibilities in excruciating detail. Design was treated a form of research. It was not until mid-1964 that a few key images appeared and started to circulate in diverse architectural, art, theatre, and political magazines. The exhibition currently
at the CCA presents this set of public images in a traditional open gallery that acts as a kind of threshold to a more confined room dense with many of the unpublished documents from the architect’s archive, the private life of the studio finally coming to the surface. The intention is not to explain the project but to encourage the emergence and evolution of different explanations by giving a sense of what this particular archive feels like. As is true of any archive, there is more information displayed than can possibly be comprehended but also many gaps and uncertain traces. The archive is an array of intriguing puzzles. Each document can act as a vital clue, encouraging a different reading of the other documents. Each answers some questions yet raises new ones, deepening rather than removing the sense
of mystery. As in Fun Palace itself, visitors have to plot their own paths, construct their own stories, carry out their own research. The long-hidden documents from the Fun Palace archives reveal that the project was both more experimental and more practical than has been understood by even its most ardent admirers. Its unprecedented assault on social and architectural conventions was precisely detailed, tested, budgeted, and negotiated for. In addition to any architect’s usual accumulations of sketches, plans, working drawings, renderings and models, there is a vast array of charts, reports, questionnaires, comparative lists, theoretical statements, film-scripts, minutes of scientific committees,
punch cards, legal documents, fundraising brochures, statistics, diagrams of cybernetic circuits, newspaper clippings, electrical devices for generating random decisions, and so on. If Cedric Price was “Anti-Architect no. 1” ,as he called himself while working on Fun Palace, his way of destablilizing
architecture was just to go deeper and deeper into each of its most basic operations. Research became a weapon.
By obsessively trying to “reduce the range of my ignorance,” Cedric Price released a project so ambitious in its conceptual, technical, spatial, and social innovation that it still haunts us today. Instead of designing a building, he redesigned the figure of the architect.

Seleccionamos hoy dos artículos referidos al pensamiento de Cedric Price, uno de esos personajes que intuían un camino posible pero no tuvieron la oportunidad de hacerlo realidad, aunque si algunos de sus colegas. El primero es un escrito de su pluma que expone algunos conceptos aplicados en el Fun Palace, desarrollado en el segundo artículo extraído de la revista Domus. Es curioso que lo llame antiarquitectura, deberíamos plantearnos hoy que sería una antiarquitectura.
Editado por el arq. Martín Lisnovsky

1 comentario:

Norman Fellows dijo...

Thank you for your article. May I give you one of mine: http://beyond-supercrit-1-cp-ptb.blogspot.fr


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