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Post #1420

Cheer up (and get on with it), it’s Archigram!

Last night I was lucky enough to be invited by friend-of-BERG Liam Young to the launch of the Archigram Archive.

The archive is quite fantastic, with nearly all of their projects represented – and a lot of supporting material digitised too. Geoff Manaugh has an extensive appreciation of it on BLDGBLOG.

Mike Webb, Dennis Crompton from NYC via Skype

Dennis Crompton and Mike Webb joined the room from NYC, where they had been stranded by a volcanic eruption, via internet video chat.

Is there anything more Archigram than that?

They were projected in one of London’s oldest cinemas (complete with organ), via a mundane consumer-grade webcam and Skype – due to the Northern Atlantic being shrouded in ash from Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland.


Peter Cook (atomically co-present) then took the stage to present what he called the “Archigram Afterburn” – where he felt the sensibility of Archigram could be found these days.

He started by pointing out that the robots that mow the green roof of AHO, in Oslo have more in common with Archigram (specifically the ‘Mowbots’ of the Bottery) than the schemes being cooked up below…

He moved on to describe what was most powerful about Archigram was that they were a coalition, with a multiplicity of viewpoints, opinions and strong egos that inspired each other as much as they provoked each other (sounds familiar…)

It was brilliant to see all of them still passionate, and maybe even angry about the status-quo of the built-environment. To see the commemoration and celebration of their work as a call to arms, as re-iteration of the urgency and fun to be had figuring out better futures.

Cook left us with this thought:

Smile please.

It feels to me that the spirit of Archigram does live on, especially in London right now – but not necessarily in the architectural profession or academy.

It’s infused in the gaps of the pixels-to-plastic, post-digital/pre-biotic, spimey-wimey, city-scale, cell-deep discipline-that-has-no-name that we feel excited to be knee-deep in whenever we can.

Looks like we have a new mission statement…

Before this:

After this:

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