Tentoonstelling ‘ARCHIGRAM, Experimental Architecture 1961-1974’
18 november 2001 - 3 februari 2002
lokatie: Westelijk Handelsterrein
Van Vollenhovenstraat 15, 3016 BG Rotterdam
open:dinsdag t/m zaterdag van 10.00 tot 17.00 uur
zondag van 11.00 tot 17.00 uur

Archigram, History of the Future

Archigram, een samenvoeging van de woorden Architectural en Telegram, is de titel van het tijdschrift dat Peter Cook in 1961 publiceerde. Het eerste nummer is tevens de aanleiding de gelijknamige architectengroep op te richten met Warren Chalk, Dennis Crompton, Ron Herron, David Greene, Mike Webb en de eerder genoemde Peter Cook. Tussen 1961 en 1974 verschijnen negen en een half nummer.
Archigram zet op een ongekende en licht provocerende manier nieuwe middelen in om
architectuur te bedrijven. Naast de inzet van ontwerpen en kritieken onderzoekt Archigram met gedichten, stripverhalen en publicitaire slogans de relaties tussen cultuur en technologie. De groep brengt hiermee het verband tussen de massaproductie van objecten en de populaire cultuur aan het licht. Geen van de belangrijke gebeurtenissen uit die tijd ontsnappen aan hun aandacht, zoals de eerste reis naar de maan en de opkomst van de popmuziek. De leden van de groep brengen een nieuwe architectuur, bedenken oplossingen voor de toekomstige samenleving en integreren in hun taalgebruik woorden als ‘fun’, ‘entertainment’ en ‘mobile’. Al geruime tijd kan het oeuvre van Archigram, een ware katalysator van een nieuwe verbeelding, gezien worden als de voorbode van de hedendaagse architectuur en haar uitdrukkingsmiddelen. Tot op de dag van vandaag geldt hun werk als inspiratiebron voor architecten.
Archigram bestaat nu al bijna dertig jaar niet meer. Ondanks haar vizier op de toekomst is zij geschiedenis. De Academie van Bouwkunst Rotterdam heeft de reizende overzichtstentoonstelling ‘Archigram, Experimental Architecture 1961-1974’ naar Rotterdam gehaald, die daarmee voor het eerst in Nederland is te zien. De tentoonstelling, met de originele tekeningen, collages, maquettes, installaties en video’s, vindt plaats in het onlangs fraai gerestaureerde rijksmonument ‘Westelijk Handelsterrein’. Dennis Crompton die waakt over de archieven van Archigram, ontwierp speciaal voor deze locatie de inrichting van de tentoonstelling.

Parallel aan de tentoonstelling wordt een lezingenreeks georganiseerd over het gedachtegoed van Archigram. De lezingen vormen tevens de aanloop naar een internationale Archigram-workshop in januari 2002 op de Academie van Bouwkunst, waarbij de leden van Archigram een belangrijke rol zullen spelen.

ARCHIGRAM, Experimental Architecture 1961-1974’
The exhibition focuses on the innovative concepts and visionary projects of the English architectural group ARCHIGRAM (Warren Chalk, Peter Cook, Dennis Crompton, David Greene, Ron Herron and Michael Webb). Especially active during the years from 1961 to 1974. The London-based group anticipated the global inter-relatedness of culture and technology and thus had an immediate influence on architectural discussions world-wide. The significance of their work for the international community of architects has long been recognised; in the early nineties they were back in the focus of debates about future urban life. Thus, it comes as no surprise that a new edition of the 1972 Archigram book written by the group members was republished in 1991 and again in 1999.
Archigram’s ideas responded to space travel and moon landing, subculture and the Beatles, science fiction and the new technologies of the sixties and seventies. Their historical inspirations came from architect/artists such as Buckminster Fuller, Bruno Taut or Friedrich Kiesler. As a result, they created radical – often shocking – alternatives to cities, houses and other architectural archetypes. The pluralism of architectonic vocabulary, which is so typical of Archigram, includes collages of advertising images from the world of consumer goods, conglomerates of cities reminiscent of spaceships, or metaphor drawings on robotics and organic cityscapes. Their radical re-definitions of flats as "Capsules", of cities as "Plug-in Cities" or "Walking Cities" (both 1964), and an aesthetic formal vocabulary that goes beyond functionalism had its repercussions on the contemporary art and subsequent avant-garde architecture not only in Europe but notably also in Japan and America. Japanese, American and Austrian architects in particular were in touch with the group again and again in spite of differences in their architectural approaches.
Ron Herron, Peter Cook and Dennis Crompton developed a sophisticated spatial exhibition structure arranging Archigram’s work – more than 1000 original drawings and sketches, and over two dozen models. Concepts – Living City, the Woolands Plug’n Clip Room and the Harrod’s 1990 House – which had formerly been translated into reality were reconstructed for the opening of the exhibition at the KUNSTHALLE in Vienna. The majority of the drawings and collages on show come from the group’s own archives with additions from museum collections in Germany, France, the United Kingdom and the United States. The significance of the drawings lies in the fact that they were not only important for the work within the group, but also had an influence on modern architectural drawing techniques and the structures they represented.
In an integrated multi-media "Arena" spectators are introduced to Archigram’s oeuvre in slide projections, videos, music and sound recordings. The Arena provides an animated, rolling caption, to the work of the Archigram Group, and also an illustration of some of those areas of work which cannot be properly shown by drawings. The forty-five minute, multi-screen audio-visual presentation traces the development of the Group’s concepts and investigations through the period from the first issue of the Archigram Magazine in 1961 to the awarding of the contract to design a major entertainments centre in Monte Carlo for the government of Monaco in 1970. (This commission was a result of the Group gaining the first prize in an invited international competition.) The Arena program is in itself a part of the history of the work. It has been compiled from original slides and tapes made through the sixties. The core of the presentation is the Archigram Opera which was shown at venues throughout the United States and elsewhere in the early seventies. The twenty-six slide-projector show (reduced to fourteen for the travelling version of the exhibition) is augmented by three videos which have been transferred from original films. These include a film made in 1967 about the Group’s work, films made by the Group for the Milan Triennale 1967 and an experimental film, I Remember Architecture, by David Greene.
The Plugs Gallery focuses on that part of Archigram work which follows the proposition that "architecture" could/should be reduced to service and have no visible presence unless this is part of the service requirement. Projects with this preoccupation are brought together in this space. In general terms these projects can be summarised as insertions in the natural landscape. The centre-piece of the Gallery is a full-size interpretation of the Log/Rock Plugs project in which service ports are concealed in trees or rock outcrops to provide facilities for the nomadic occupants of the cybernetic meadows and wooded glades – perhaps giving new meaning to the label Computer Park.

The exhibition was originated and first shown at the KUNSTHALLE, Vienna, in the spring of 1994. It moved to the CENTRE POMPIDOU, Paris, where it was seen through the summer of 1994 before going to the MUSEUM FÜR GESTALTUNG, Zurich in early 1995. The exhibition was at the KUNSTVERIN in Hamburg throughout the summer of 1997.
The CORNERHOUSE gallery, in Manchester, England presented the exhibition from 7 January to 15 February 1998 (with a record attendance of nearly 15,000 visitors). It then travelled to New York to be shown at THREADWAXINGSPACE, STOREFRONT GALLERYand the Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery of COLUMBIAUNIVERSITY from 12 March to 25 April 1998 before touring North America.
Recent showings have been at the WILLIAMSON GALLERY of the Art Center, Pasadena, and in San Francisco where it was at the MUSEUM OF MODERN ART and the SAN FRANCISCO ART INSTITUTE. The tour of North America ended at the HENRY GALLERY, University of Washington, Seattle. Back now in Europe the exhibition has been at the TRIENNALE GALLERY in Milan in the summer of 2000 and at the FONDATION POUR L’ARCHITECTURE, Brussels in March/June 2001.

A GUIDE TO ARCHIGRAM 1961–74, compiled by Dennis Crompton, was published by Academy Editions (ISBN 1 85490 376 4) to accompany the original 1994 exhibition to supplement the drawings and models. It is introduced by Toni Stoss and contains extensive additional original material — texts by group members, a large number of illustrations together with critical essays by Reyner Banham, Herbert Lachmayer and Pascal Schöning. This publication is now out of print.
A second publication, CONCERNING ARCHIGRAM, with introduction by Michael Sorkin and essays by Barry Curtis and William Menking and contributions from the Archigram Group members, was published to coincide with the exhibition in Manchester and New York. This book (ISBN 0 94879 764 9) is available direct from the Archigram Archives for £10.00 plus packing and postage.
The original ARCHIGRAM book, which was first published in 1972 by Studio Vista, was reprinted in both English and German editions by Birkhäuser Verlag Basel in 1991. A new edition has been published by Princeton Architectural Press (ISBN1-56898-194-5) and there is a Japanese language edition by Kajima.
THEVISIONSOFRONHERRON by Reyner Banham published by Academy Editions in 1994 (ISBN1 85490 268 7). This is now out of print but a few copies are available from the Archigram Archives at £24.50 plus packing and postage.
For further information please contact:
Dennis Crompton at the Archigram Archives, 38 Regents Park Road, London NW1 7SX, UK.
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7722 3362. Fax: +44 (0)20 7483 0565. E-mail: dennisc@atlas.co.uk
August 2001