Looking back, Archigram member Dennis Crompton writes: This was the early 1960s (…), a time of great social and cultural change. We were concerned about the way that cities were being developed in the United Kingdom. The population of London (and the southeast of the United Kingdom) was predicted to expand at a tremendous rate for a variety of reasons” (1).  

Plug-In City, Max. Pressure Area Section, 1964, Archigram/ Peter Cook

Enlarged print from original ink on tracing monochrome drawing mounted and hand coloured with added colour film. 84 x 176 cm.

Courtesy of Archigram Archives

Despite its serious background, Archigram became a synonym for the fusion of pop and architecture. In 1961 the first issue of the magazine Archigram appeared, edited by David Greene, Peter Cook and Michael Webb, in an edition of 300 and printed on large-format paper. It was a low-budget publication, but highly self-consciously saw itself as the mouthpiece for a young generation of architects, planners and artists, presenting new solutions for existing urban-design problems.

Plug-In City, Axonometric, 1964, Archigram/ Peter Cook

Print from original ink on tracing monochrome drawing cut out and applied togrey art board, overdrawn and hand coloured with added colour film. 61 x 59 cm. Courtesy of Archigram Archives

Like the following 8½ issues, the paper had the character of an underground art-scene magazine rather than an architecture periodical; instead of glossy paper, elegant photo-series and factual journalism, Archigram featured comic strips, erratic typography, poetry and curt statements (Archigram = Architecture & Telegram).

Plug-In City, City Synthesis, 1963, Archigram/ Dennis Crompton

Conceptual model made of metal rods and wire, plastic and paper.

Courtesy of Archigram Archives

For the second issue, published in 1962, Warren Chalk, Dennis Crompton and Ron Herron, who worked together at London County Council, encountered the loose, co-operative group. Joint architectonic projects soon developed out of their work on the magazine, such as the exhibition Living City in London’s ICA, in which Archigram re-staged the City as a living organism. Projects like Walking City, Instant City and Crushicle followed. In 1964, with Plug-in City, Archigram presented the ultimate in megastructure: held by the diagonal struts of the supporting structure and connected by communicating pipes, are a mass of residential towers, office structures, honeycomb theatres and information silos. The buildings are crowned by cranes, with which the individual modules can easily be moved and exchanged.


MR

(1) Dennis Crompton, Archigram: At Work, in: Martin van Schaik, Otakar Máčel, Exit Utopia, München 2005, S. 88.