The Fun Palace Cedric Price s experiment in architecture

The Fun Palace Cedric Price S Experiment In Architecture-Free PDF

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fiction images of self constructing plug in cities and spidery buildings that. would walk among the ruins of a post apocalyptic world Yet these out. landish ideas for new architectures were inspired by the work of the late. British architect Cedric Price and specifically on his watershed project for. the London Fun Palace Price s Fun Palace was to be unlike any building. before that time but set the stage for architecture for years to come It was. Figure 1 Cedric Price Fun Palace sketches and notes c 1964 Cedric Price. Archives Canadian Centre for Architecture Montreal Price worked with avant. garde theater producer Joan Littlewood to create an improvisational architec. ture endlessly in the process of construction dismantling and reassembly The. Fun Palace was to be a university of the streets providing educational. opportunities in the guise of leisure entertainment. 74 Stanley Mathews, the inspiration for the Pompidou Centre in Paris and it has continued to 1 The apparent affinity. inspire architects in the decades since with the work of the. Situationist, The Fun Palace would challenge the very definition of architecture for it International is hardly. was not even a conventional building at all but rather a kind of scaffold or accidental Both Joan. Littlewood s ideas and, framework enclosing a socially interactive machine a virtual architecture those of the SI grew. merging art and technology In a sense it was the realization of the long out of common ideo. unfulfilled promise of Le Corbusier s claims of a technologically informed logical and artistic. roots Moreover both, architecture and the machine for living It was not a museum nor a Price and Littlewood. school theatre or funfair and yet it could be all of these things simultane were close friends. with Scottish poet and, ously or at different times The Fun Palace was an environment continually Situationist Alexander.
interacting and responding to people By the mid 1960s it had become a Trocchi who briefly. vast social experiment and a cause celebre for scores of London intellectuals joined the ranks of. consultants and, who saw in it the germ of a new way of building thinking and being 1 collaborators on the. People as diverse as Buckminster Fuller Yehudi Menuhin and Tony Benn Fun Palace The spon. taneous university, volunteered their services to the project described in Trocchi s. The original idea for the Fun Palace was the brainchild of the late avant Project SIGMA mani. garde theatre producer Joan Littlewood As a young actress she stayed only festo Invisible. Insurrection of a, one step ahead of the police in her early work with her revolutionary agit Million Minds may. prop street performances with the Red Megaphones In the 1950s she well have been. inspired by Price and, founded the Theatre Workshop in London s East End and finally enjoyed a Littlewood s plans for. string of successes in the West End theatre district with such hits as A Taste the Fun Palace. of Honey and Oh What a Lovely War Yet Littlewood s heart had always. remained with the ad hoc improvisational street theatre of the early agit. prop days Her enduring dream had been to create a new kind of theatre. not of stages performers and audiences but a theatre of pure performa. tivity and interaction a synthesis of London s public gardens its music. Figure 2 Cedric Price Fun Palace section c 1964 Cedric Price Archives. Canadian Centre for Architecture Montreal Pivoting escalators and moveable. wall panels would permit endless variation and flexibility. The Fun Palace Cedric Price s experiment in architecture and technology 75. Figure 3 Cedric Price Fun Palace axonometric section c 1964 Cedric Price. Archives Canadian Centre for Architecture Montreal Cedric Price and struc. tural engineer Frank Newby designed a structural matrix with overhead cranes. to allow assembly of prefabricated modules, halls and the life of its neighbourhoods and streets She envisioned an.
ideal realization of Brechtian theatre as a place of cultural bricolage where. people could experience the transcendence and transformation of the. theatre not as audience but as players and active participants in a drama. of self discovery, The time was right for Littlewood s idea for the postwar era was a pro. longed identity crisis for Britain and the British Since the end of the Second. World War British society and economy had changed dramatically As the. pomp and circumstance of empire faded Labour leader Aneurin Bevan s. Welfare State reforms placed new emphasis on the common person and. new educational policies made higher education available to people of all. classes At the same time Britain was struggling to keep pace in an increas. ingly competitive world market Redundancy factory closures and automa. tion meant that fewer people would be employed and those who had jobs. would work shorter hours As the need for unskilled labour decreased. sharply it was clear that new kinds of workers would be needed in the. future more intellectually agile and able to learn new and as yet unfore. seen skills,76 Stanley Mathews,2 The Terrible,Challenge of Leisure. New Statesman 66 23,August 1963 p 1,3 The Labour Party. 1959 Leisure for,Living London p 5, Figure 4 Cedric Price Fun Palace plan c 1964 Cedric Price Archives. Canadian Centre for Architecture Montreal This plan shows the structural. tartan grid that Price and Newby designed There is no main entry and. people could have entered at any point Stair towers and columns are located. along the sides while the centre of the structure is left open and unobstructed. In these centre bays pivoting stairs and escalators provide access to the upper. Leisure emerged as a major political economic social and architectural. issue in Britain at the time British social critics and politicians alike sought. sometimes in rather patronizing and Puritanical spirit to channel working. class free time away from idleness and unacceptable forms of leisure such. as crime alcoholism and political revolution towards new constructive. and productive uses Depending on their political affiliation they should. enjoy newly organized recreational educational opportunities the Liberals. or consumerist ventures the Conservatives A 1963 editorial in the New. Statesman entitled The Terrible Challenge of Leisure spoke to lingering. suspicions about free time in the hands of the working classes Leisure is. still confused with idleness and sin Too many of us still uncritically accept. Dr Johnson s axiom A man is never so innocently employed as when. making money 2 The 1959 Labour Party platform predicted that workplace. automation would soon lead to a predominantly leisure based economy for. The post war Labour Government proved that in a properly planned society. it is possible to guarantee full employment and as automation spreads it. will also become possible while maintaining full employment steadily to. lessen the number of hours that most people have to work. These two great advances will mean a drastic shift in our social thinking. Once full employment is again secured the emphasis will increasingly be not. on jobs for all but on leisure for all leisure and how to use it 3. Littlewood thought of the Fun Palace as a creative and constructive outlet. for this expected windfall of leisure She saw it as a way to open the British. public to new experiences and the possibilities of lifelong learning and dis. covery She spoke directly to the new economic conditions and the anticipa. The Fun Palace Cedric Price s experiment in architecture and technology 77. 4 Littlewood J A tion of the leisure society in a 1964 article in The New Scientist announcing. Laboratory of Fun her idea for the Fun Palace,The New Scientist 14.
May 1964 pp 432 3, Politicians and educators talking about increased leisure mostly assume that. people are so numb or servile that the hours in which they earn money can. be made little more hygienically bearable while a new awareness is cultivated. during the hours of leisure In London we are going to create a university. of the streets not a gracious park but a foretaste of the pleasures of the. future The Fun Arcade will be full of the games that psychologists and elec. tronics engineers now devise for the service of industry or war Knowledge. will be piped through jukeboxes An acting area will afford the therapy of. theatre for everyone men and women from factories shops and offices. bored with their daily routine will be able to re enact incidents from their own. experience wake to a critical awareness of reality But the essence of the. place will be informality nothing obligatory anything goes There will be no. permanent structures Nothing is to last more than ten years some things. not even ten days no concrete stadia stained and cracking no legacy of. noble contemporary architecture quickly dating With informality goes flexi. bility The areas that have been listed are not segregated enclosures The. whole plan is open but on many levels So the greatest pleasure of traditional. parks is preserved the pleasure of strolling casually looking at one or other. of these areas or if this is preferred settling down to several hours of work. Littlewood knew that that if she ever hoped to realize her dream no con. ventionally minded architect would be capable of designing such a place In. 1962 she met the young architect Cedric Price whose interests had taken. him far from the conventions of international style modernism to embrace. the ideas of Buckminster Fuller the art of the Independent Group and. emerging technologies of cybernetics game theory and computers Price. had already begun to make a name for himself as an architectural renegade. although he had as yet built little save for the tensile Aviary at the London. Zoo whose graceful curves were modeled after the flight patterns of birds. Littlewood explained her ideas to Price who listened eagerly and rose to her. challenge He recognized that her idea would require a radically new kind of. interactive and variable architecture highly adaptable to the rapidly shifting. cultural landscape of England now and in the future While developing his. design ideas for the Fun Palace he described his own visions for such a. Old systems of learning are now decayed The new universities will be of the. world and in each man The old clubs and condescension no longer operate. It is necessary to extend the frontiers of the minds To know how to work. out a problem for oneself The variety of activities cannot be completely. forecast as new techniques and ideas arise they will be tried The structures. themselves will be capable of changes renewal and destruction If any activity. defeats its purpose it will be changed The elimination of the word success is. 78 Stanley Mathews, important The place is a constantly changing experiment in which the old 5 Draft of Fun Palace. human categories are forgotten e g brilliant superior stupid dull Here each Booklet 1964 Fun. Palace document folio, person can discover in himself new skills and increase his enjoyment of life DR1995 0188 526. Each man and woman has one life one mind one body unique and 100 un Cedric Price Archives. Canadian Centre for, repeatable Each is capable of what was once called genius 5 Architecture. The many notes and manifesto drafts that Price and Littlewood produced 6 Draft of Fun Palace. indicate that the Fun Palace was intended explicitly as a response to the pamphlet Fun Palace. document folio, social and economic crises that faced post World War Two England and DR1995 0188 526.
especially to the way in which technology was changing the distinctions Cedric Price Archives. between work education and leisure With a sense of urgency Price and 7 To both Price and to. Littlewood wrote Henri Bergson life,processes are,essentially creative. Automation is coming More and more machines do our work for us There not aimed at a partic. is going to be yet more time left over yet more human energy unconsumed ular goal or telos but. an unceasing source, The problem which faces us is far more than that of the increased leisure to of novelty without ulti. which our politicians and educators so innocently refer This is to underesti mate objective. mate the future The fact is that as machines take over more of the drudgery. work and leisure are increasingly irrelevant concepts The distinction between. them breaks down We need and we have a right to enjoy the totality of our. lives We must start discovering now how to do so 6. In approaching the design of the Fun Palace Price began by considering. Joan Littlewood s theatrical brief as a problem not of static and solid. building but in terms of a new kind of active and dynamic architecture. which would permit multiple uses and which would constantly adapt to. change It would be a network of multiple events a space of oscillation. between incongruous activities simultaneously played out like some Dada. performance Spaces should be endlessly varied in size shape lighting. and accessibility, Rather than seek design ideas from the conventional repertoire of mod. ernist objects and spaces he considered the programme in temporal. terms and sought the solution within the problems it posed The Fun. Palace would have to be an entity whose essence was continual change. which permitted multiple and indeterminate uses His designs began to. Cedric Price Fun Palace sketches and notes c 1964 Cedric Price Archives Canadian Centre for Architecture Montreal Price worked with avant garde theater producer Joan Littlewood to create an improvisational architec ture endlessly in the process of construction dismantling and reassembly The Fun Palace was to be a university of the streets providing educational opportunities

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