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Archigram: Experimental Architecture 1961–1974

Oct 19, 2002–Jan 19, 2003

The swinging sixties in Great Britain gave rise to such pop-culture icons as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones; James Bond and The Avengers. The era also saw the emergence of the experimental architecture collective Archigram. A common undercurrent in the production of culture during this time was the ambivalent representation of technology as a gloriously romanticized convenience or demonized harbinger of doom. Members of Archigram were more interested in the pleasurable aspect of technology, characterized by the automated love-nests of Barbarella and James Bond or Peter Blake’s whimsical cover for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. However, Archigram also addressed real social problems, transcending mere fantasy to offer outrageous and prescient solutions.

Although none of their major projects were ever built, Archigram’s utopian visions of modular communities such as Walking City (1964), Plug-In City (1965), and Instant City (1968) anticipated the mobility, interconnectivity, and technology of the information age and globalism. And even though their design aesthetic is firmly rooted in 1960s style, Archigram’s projects remain fresh today and continue to inspire contemporary architects, designers, and theorists. Their legacy has inspired works by such architects as Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, and Renzo Piano and is considered the direct source for Rogers’s and Piano’s renowned Centre Pompidou in Paris.

Archigram: Experimental Architecture 1961–1974 features hundreds of original drawings and sketches, more than a dozen scale models, and an integrated multi-media “arena” with slide projections, videos, music, and sound recordings.

Funding

This exhibition was organized by the Archigram Archives, London.

Air transportation is provided by American Airlines, the official airline of the Museum of Contemporary Art.
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