Sunday, December 13, 2009

High Tech Nostalgia

(Image courtesy Archigram)
I didn't mention this in my post on the white cliffs last week, but it fits in with many of the themes I was trying to write about. The image is from Archigram's Suburban Sets project, drawn by Ron Herron. The 1960's architectural avant garde of which Archigram were such an important part combined a number of interesting themes including a sort of high-tech pastoralism where architecture is reduced to an infrastructural support system for the countryside (Peter Cook's instant city), a love of gadgets and gizmos (Warren Chalk's gasket housing) and an interest in Do It Yourself (Ron Herron's Tuned Suburb).

Suburban Sets combines a number of these themes, reducing the 'architecture' to a vestigial, scenographic role, while adding a seam of nostalgic whimsy to the mix. The design posits a scenario where the house itself has been removed and the space given over to garden, while the occupant lives in an abandoned aeroplane parked in the weeds.

I was struck by the similarity of this scheme to the Team 4 hideway illustrated in the previous post. Both combine a fantasy of architecture's dematerialisation with a nostalgia for war-time technology: a fusing of the avant garde's preoccupation with anti-architecture and the childhood joys of Airfix kits.


Murphy said...

I was aware of this drawing but I never made the team 4 connection. It's got that interesting english suburban surrealist thing, and the projection is nuts!

Incidentally- I refer to the 'Retreat' as a 'B29 cockpit' in a forthcoming review, but a Lancaster would have been much better. I suppose I was stressing their admiration for the New World... One of the things from that AA exhibition that I didn't have space to mention was the chap in the internal perspective of the 'Retreat', a figure straight out of a Hockney painting, with binoculars, a book, a camera, two glasses and a bottle of wine set out in front of him...

Charles Holland said...
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Charles Holland said...

Yes, I'm a big fan of the planometric projection! It's a very particular view though of course, resulting in a particularly frontal, facade based architecture.

Yes, the Hockney influence (or, indeed, Caulfield and other English painters) is interesting. It's a very english form of pop culture that is essentially literary in its basis and also linked to pop life vignettes by The Kinks et al.Suburban sets is a short story or a pop lyric or a still life as much as an architectural proposal i think.