Archigram: Anaesthetic Architecture

Archigram has created a utopian image which is an anaesthetic architecture in nature with respect to the current and 50 years ago. It is created for the time which is far ahead of the present time. As the present time is not yet ready for such kind of architecture, and this makes it’s insensitive or context less (Anaesthetic) to suit in today’s time. At present situation its num in its own state as it’s not designed to feel the pain, present condition and needs of the time. The Paper aim is to explore historical dimension behind architecture and technology, imagination of future lifestyle and design approaches. It also aims at studying the evolution of the futuristic concepts and its influence on the present and future art and architecture. Image of Archigram “You can roll out steel- any length, You can blow up a balloon- Any Size You can mould plastic- Any shape Blocks that built the forth bridge, they didn’t worry”
By Peter Cook- the key member of Archigram.

The Architecture and design belief for Archigram group is like everything and anything-is-possible. Archigram was lead by the group of six young and fresh London Architects which gave a different direction in thinking and possibilities in the art, architecture and technology. Their projects have challenged the permanency of conventional architecture, substituting a brand of architecture which is dynamic, expendable, instant, plug-in, and openended. The image of Archigram is like a Happy Architectural Dreams, where nothing is impossible, glorified, smooth, easy, convenient, where past or context doesn’t matter. The entire struggle is to see the happy future. Their architecture was not meant for their times, it was for the future which is far ahead. Archigram is the combination of words “ARCHItecture” and “teleGRAM”. Architecture for the fast developing and progressing world. In 1960, the young Architects Warren Chalk-“Political thinker”, Peter Cook-“Spokesman”, Dennis Crompton-“Technician”, David Greene-“Thoughtful poet”, Ron Herron- “Artist” and Mike Webb- “Conceptual genius” came together in London to reform the world architecture. They had completely new visions and idea on modernity, as Peter Cook describe “Continuing European tradition of well-mannered but gutless architecture” and they believed that the way in which so-called ‘modern’ architecture seemed to have betrayed the bravest of modernism’s philosophies. Hence Archigram set out to mix architecture from its slumbers, inject it with new vitality and dramatically expand its horizons.” “Archigram is short on theory, long on draughtsmanship and craftsmanship” as mentioned by Peter reyner banham in book Archigram. So lot of stress were on the images which had a language for themselves. At first glance everything appears to be utopia. But that was not what they saw in most of their works. They wanted to show world how it could be, then and now. It was the extreme reaction to the condition which was lead and the possibility in the future. Many of Archigram projects are immediately buildable using current techniques, But they are certainly not immediately buildable with the given politics, society and even economy. That makes Archigram projects Utopian. Time does not seem ready for it. They have tried to lay the situation which will come in future, where there is nothing like context or site, but where the importance is given to time, expendably, free movement etc.

The Rietveld Schroder House Fig2 the only building realised completely according to the principles of De Fig2: Schroder house. The city was not meant to last. Neo-Plasticism (De-Stijl) in The Netherlands in 1916: Its influence on architecture remained considerable long after 1931. positive opinions towards technology continuously and simultaneously were proclaimed in Europe around the early 19th century. rather than simply following the modernism tradition. Constructivism in Russia in 1920: It’s the combination of engineering and technology with political ideology. necessitated to re-vitalized urban life and accommodation for society. Within such a dilemma. He manipulates light and shape to emphasize the sculptural quality of his projects. The city had replaced the landscape as the setting for the exciting modern life. Mies van der Rohe was among the most important proponents of its ideas. fast-paced machine. even under such a dilemma and complexity. envisaging Utopian futures. and each subsequent generation was expected to build their own city rather that Fig1: The new city by Antonio Sant'Elia Inheriting the architecture of the past. Russian architect Vladimir Tatlin proposed a futuristic monument to the 3rd International in the city of St. they ended up struggling for a comprehensive response to the society claiming salvation. In contrast. Archigram reacted against the functionalism of former modern architects. Sant'Elia aimed to create a city as a efficient. Cubism in France in 1908. Stijl. the baby boom in the 1960’s and the rapid growth of urbanism in Europe. This project was never. The attempts were made by whose exponents were as fallow: Futurism in Italy in 1909-1916: The Futurist architect Antonio Sant'Elia expressed his ideas of modernity in his drawings for La Città Nuova in Fig1 (The New City) (1912–1914). Purism in France in 1918. the mainstream of modernism in architecture was declining for a while after 1950’s and struggling to accommodate the cultural dimension of technology while attempting to revitalize post-war societies with functionalism. In 1920. The city was a backdrop onto which the dynamism of Futurist life is projected. Archigram emerged.Background: Effects of world war At the completion of World War II. the leading modern architects still persisted with their obsolete methodologies that were technologic oriented functionalism. recovering from the devastation of the two World Wars. additionally. and their focus was on comprehensible design for human association and local identity. but his ideas influenced later generations of architects and artists. A main reason for this is the post-war era. Yet. The acknowledgement denoted that although Archigram and Team X were different in architectural expression. both commonly proposed alternatives and totality to a society depressed in the post-war. Simultaneously. Which were known as the ‘European avant-garde’. Nevertheless. as most European countries needed the reconstruction of their environments. The most famous work of constructivist architecture was never actually built. . As a result.

These ideologies in the field of art. The unbuilt project. three glass-walled building units . an analysis of the European avant-garde seems necessary to explicate the nature of Archigram”. stated in his book. when raining or snowing. This was influential to Archigram in the manner that it enabled a structure frame in one of their projects. Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius. in order for nomadic inhabitation in the hypothetical future and with the ‘Bad Weather Balloons to cover the whole. Le Corbusier. It was based on the characteristics like Expandability and mobility. I n architectonic dimension. called Tatlin's Tower Fig3.a cube.Petersburg (then known as Petergrado). (1962-1964) Le Corbusier Maison Domino (1914) Characteristics Characteristics of Archigram. It moreover. contributed to the change associated with technologies in style of architecture and modern life. ‘Expandability’ and ‘Mobility’ epitomized unpredictability of a future urban form. the ‘Maison Domino’ (Fig 4) epitomized efficiency of a frame structure configured with vertical columns and horizontal floor slabs. ‘Plug-in-City’. They used the terms of Hardware and software. Fig 4: Fig 5: Peter Cook Plug in cities. . by plugging smaller dwelling units into it (Fig 5). Therefore. With this structure. Archigram was influenced by In European countries . services and facilities. “We were conscious of the Avant-Garde of Europe. used spiral forms to symbolize revolution and human interaction. It had broken a traditional hierarchy between architecture and infrastructure. Projects Plug-in City: Plug-in city designed by Peter cook in 19621964. a pyramid. is equipped with the ‘Crane-Way (fig 6). Le corburier evolved the idea of an open plan and flexibleness in a certain space. in other words. operating to move prefabricated dwelling units. Fig3: Tatlin’s tower Utopian thought overlaps with each other and the European avant-garde past history has formed the guidelines for Archigram. shops. removing massive walls as structure. And Suprematism in Russia in 1913. Inside the spirals. The aim seems to attempt to meet unpredictable general future demands. and a cylinder would rotate at different speeds. It was meant to meet the unpredictable general demands. houses and roads or streets it all starts functioning as one whole. architecture and technology. Peter Cook a central player of Archigram. The framed mega-structure functions as urban infrastructure and has the capability of plugging-in transportation: monorails and roads and prefabricated units: dwellings.

The pods were independent. This radical shift was highly motivated by a technologic oriented hypothetical scenario. as if architecture was involved in an instrumental process of a huge machine.Ron Herron A walking city was based on the context on perceived as a future ruined world due to nuclear war. Hence proposed building massive mobile robotic structures Fig7: A Walking city. and to save people from the destruction of stationary buildings. The Walking City is made up of mobile buildings that can travel to where they are needed and 'plug-in' to the rest of the city to serve its residents. so as they can pack their livings and go wherever they want to. The citizen is therefore a serviced nomadic which is similar form of today's executive cars. At this time many nations was trying to recover from the wounds of the World War II.where hardware is the rigid mega structure and software are the elements that are exchangeable. and it may have been the Archigrams negation of significance of traditional architecture. Consequently. yet parasitic as they could 'plug in' to way stations to exchange occupants. this reduced architecture into one of urban elements. A Walking City (1964). Fig 6: Section of Plug-in City with crane for expnsion. It had greater effects on the people and perception of architecture.Ron Herron (1964) A Walking City was imagined as the fast-paced urban lifestyle of a technologically advanced society in which one need not be .

The architectural drawings look modern. figures exist to show the proportions and scale. Archigram tried to merge pop-art with architecture. For them the images speak a powerful language. Through all their works. In many projects. Fig 8. a city to function in a rigid pod in not ideal and difficult to function. The art movement was generated in England around the 1950’s and moved to the United State.tied down to a permanent location. Archigram was always very aware of media. travel and stay put at same time. graphics and illustration was predominant language. ‘Pop Art’ reflects popular cultures and expresses ordinary objects of consumer products or advertisements. publishing was the best way they could express themselves and rebel against contemporary architecture. This is highly unusual in any architectural drawings. Evolution of work Representation of Projects: Archigram style. they tell inspiring stories.10) plays an important role. It seems that the visualization was helpful for the Archigram to present narratives of their work. These are more of extreme reactions to the situation. which was composed of Fig9: Manaco Underground 1970 Fig10: Instant city 1968 . Section of walking city pod These hypnotically ideas and response to these situations are very anaesthetic in today’s contexts. The structures are conceived to plug into utilities and information networks at different locations to support the needs and desires of people who work and play. In walking cities. From most of their drawings tells that human figures (fig 9. all happy human activities occupies about quarter space of the give page. The human figure looks like they have been cut from the magazines and pasted on the surface of the architectural drawings. This kid of architecture could just be the immediate reaction and solution for that moment but can be a solution to function throughout. Their projects had short theory and long draughtsmanship and craftsmanship. however in Archigram projects the buildings featured in the drawings seemed only to act as backdrop for the activities of the figures(fig:8. Generally.9). being very graphical even forty years ago.

as if a technologic gadget can suddenly create a great fantasy. Their imagination of a great. fun. The Archigram style has influenced pink Floyd. But it would be wrong to say that as in some of their work the main concern is given to the people of all comfort and flexibility which is possible nowadays. thought being in same era. governments and architects were magically able to discard the mental impedimenta of the previous age and embrace the newly developed technologies and their attendant attitudes” by mike Webb in the essay ‘ boys at heart”. Fig 12 : Sets by Mark Fisher in Pink Floyd the wall in 1980 Archigram was not alone with their criticism on contemporary architecture and with their ideas by which they tried to redefine architecture. both the groups had a similar kind of futuristic and glorified and too loud approaches to the situations or extreme reaction to the times which is clearly seen in their albums like Pink Floyd. settling down wherever its inhabitants thought best The group's style which was seen in many of the James Bond films of the 1960s and 1970s as well as on countless sci-fi movies from Barbarella to Bladerunner. the dark side of the moon etc.the wall. but rather as a representation of a hypothetical environment made manifest simultaneously with its two dimensional paper. This is how tings would look like.critic. and delightful in hypothetical worlds. f planners. There were groups . using high tech means. Pop-art Dreamer Archigram later on was also known as group of young British pop art architects. reptilian hi-tech city strode across the international urban landscape on vast telescopic legs. Also the kind of sets designed by mark fisher’s in 1980 for pink Floyd were Archigram-style designs writ luridly large and very loud. “The drawings was ever intended to be a window through which the world of tomorrow could be viewed. Fig10: tomato Fig11: Turned Suburb Electronic Archigram is often blamed to be inhuman.

Clarify the differences in metabolic rhythms along the unit spaces. As it had a large impact on the architectural world. the one of the built project of metabolist group. It also through light on the concept of flexibility and the unlimited ability to grow. over 40 years. . by Kisho Kurokawa. it showed the entirely new uses for traffic systems. Divide the units into equipment units and living units. Thought the schemes of Archigram and metabolism were on the similar parallel basis the scale of the projects were huge and vast. To the Japanese architects who adopted the name. The metabolist group was formed in Japan a year before i. It’s developed on the technology to install the capsule units into a concrete core with only 4 high-tension bolts. Kiyonori Kikutake. Tokyo bay project gave a new dimensions to the urban planning projects to the another level. they all met in the similar manner as Archigram. Archigram might be probably influenced by the Kenzo Tange’s “Plan for Tokyo bay” (Fig 15) project in 1960. the units have never been changed. They formed a some basic principles like Divide the spaces into basic units.e. The flexible and changeable idea didn’t work out as the reason might be that time does not seems ready for it. As it executed the basic idea of plug in city in a small scale. 1960. This must have made them unbuildable and inhuman. as it consisted of two major elements: steel frame and reinforced concrete towers. However till now. Metabolist: Metabolism moment was lead in the similar manner as Archigram. The capsule is designed to accommodate the individual as either an apartment or studio space. Kiyoshi Awazu. That makes metabolism to flourish more. Archizoom and super studio (1966). its amplitude is quite comparable to the impact of Archigram projects in the later years. Kenzo Tange. Metabolism is on the idea of intent on developing a philosophical system based on the concept of cyclical change and Archigram on a purely pragmatic basis and simply regards the use of separate components. who had the similar kind of future anaesthetic architectural visions.like metabolism (1960). Fig 15: Tokyo Bay project by Keno Tange. Fig 13 & 14: Yamagata Hawaii Dreamland by Kisho Kurokawa Plug in-cities are on the similar basis like nakagin Capsule tower by Kisho Kurokawa. it meant creating a dynamic environment that could live and grow by discarding its outdated parts and regenerating newer. more viable elements. Metabolism is the biological process by which life is maintained through the continuous cycle of creation and destruction. Clarify the connectors and joints among spaces with different metabolic rhythms. as well as making the units detachable and replaceable.

The concept of Archigram has remained in progress for their contemporaries and successors. Archigram enjoyed the future. The Archigram articulated social and cultural dimensions of contemporary architecture. Archigrams comic-collagestyle influence was seen in the designed sections visualization. unbuildable and run away architecture and for some a nice beautiful future. open enough to create an independent self or image and renders one’s mind with all the possibility that one can imagine. was largely involved by the effects of the Archigram. Archigram vs. including architecture. Aachen university (1968-1986) fig 16. and an escalator tube are boldly exposed. rather than formalistic aestheticization. technology was philosophically destined to associate with any Production. full of life. designed by Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano were greatly influenced by the Archigram.a scared. particularly in terms of the technologic aesthetic zed elevations. but still it had created a large and vast impact and has give a new and fresh vision in future architecture. was designed on the ideology of Archigram which is high-tech in appearance. by Weber. where facility-ducts. And from all their drawings and painting says one thing that thought they are Anaesthetic to present. Faculty of medicine. steel-structure elements. almost same visual language like Pompidou center. Brandt and partners. a better world that architecture could provide which is the future needs of the people. 17).Projects influenced by Archigram: Tough the projects of the Archigram was not built. local Architecture Over all projects and approaches of the Archigram are more like anaesthetic architecture as it’s totally num or can’t feel its surroundings context and the existing local architecture. Aachen University Fig 17 Centre Pompidou View and sections showing the influence of Archigram Conclusion From Archigram works: Archigram drawings were deep. Perhaps. The main aim behind . for some it renders terrible news. which were highly oriented with technologies in terms of organization. The ‘Centre Pompidou’ (Fig. Fig 16 Faculty of Medicine. Thus their paintings and drawings are more like an art where one has the option to interpret in their own way and fantasy.

As show in fig 20. Fig 18 residence antilia. Some of them are already constructed and some are on their ways which are constructed by assuming the future needs. They don’t have any relation with the ground or earth space. as the craze of modern buildings are is affecting the today’s design. Anaesthetic Architecture L ocal Architecture Is moving Current Architectur e . we are slowly heading toward the anesthetic architecture. India Fig 19 Penang global city centre. and flexible movable spaces. The living spaces they created was also too robotic and mechanical. Plug-in city. To me the glimpse of anaesthetic architecture has started or taken birth.their approaches seems to be the reflection of power and technology and at later stage happy smiling people. In the Megaprojects like A walking city. Instant city etc don’t eve describe or mentioned about the open/ common/ public spaces. may be due to constantly moving or changeable spaces. As seen in the above images fig 18 residence antilia. India and fig 19 Penang global city centre. Most of their work seems to be a showcase or show-off of advent of modern technology and engineering. Anaesthetic glass structures which are irresponsive to the context are coming up in all most every cities of India. the sense of neighbourhood or belonging to it was completely missing. Malaysia are totally anesthetic to surrounding context. this makes it more Anaesthetic. Most of these buildings have the basic framework structure of beams and columns. tucked or clothed with glass all around so as to show or portray the contemporariness and modernity. Malaysia In today’s time local architecture is under the threat of the emerging anaesthetic architecture. As the current lifestyle is in between.

They have made attempts to merge the present times happy humans cut from American magazine to their projects so has to prove that their architecture is fit to construct in today’s time. the most of the projects were large scale. Showing current scenario Source:Author Fig 21: Showing the evolution projects along with timeline Source: Author From the above image Fig 21.g A Walking city based on the concept of moving or running of the entire city on the situation of war. all on the concept of expandability. which were highly anaesthetic in nature.e from 1961 till 1968. high-tech. Later on from 1968. was full of human . which was missing in the previous year’s project. all revolving behind one concerns or issue.Fig 20. At the later stage the projects. E. flexibility. its observed that the few projects at the starting i. there are lot of human activities shown.

Herbert Lachmayer Archigram: Architecture Now. Bibliography • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Theory and Design in the First Machine Age. Ribeiro and Rejane Spitz Domestic futures: ‘The Archigram Effect’ Anab Jain. Metabolism in Architecture.the Architecture of perfection • • • • Shruti Pandit 1st year M-Arch Sem II . Chronology of the European Avant Garde. Marine and Underwater Cities 1960-1975 by Peter Raisbeck www.Peter cook. St Martins Press.the true story by peter cook Archigram.Architecture without Architecture . The Architectural Press Archigram.Peter Hall Impossible worlds.com A Guide to Archigram: 1961-1974. Hence from their overall projects. 1980 The Situationist city.Peggy Deamer Archigram’s Analogical Approach to Digitality Fabíola M.Kisho Kurokawa Archigram-happy architectural dreams Post-war Architecture: Archigram by Gevork Hartoonian The Everyday and the Utopian. creates a image of anaesthetic fantasy of happy dreamy architectural future.activities where architecture forms the backdrop.Simon Sadler Archigram effect.haecceityinc.Simon Sadler Cities of tomorrow. London. 1900─1937 by Chris Michaelides. Ron Herron and Dennis Crompton. Banham.

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