Laying emphasis on the role of educational and leisure structures, this paper explores the contribution made by Cedric Price to the debate about decentralization and the future of cities in the UK of the 1960. At a time when machines were gaining ground in the systems of production, somehow undermining the relationship between work and leisure, Price mobilized his understanding of cybernetics and game theory to conceive a new relationship between man and architecture based on the machine. His approach became clear in the Fun Palace (1960-66), a multi-purpose building which could be assembled and disassembled, conceived in collaboration with theatre Director Joan Littlewood. Price upgraded mass leisure from idleness to emancipation, reinterpreting the Corbuserian machine à habiter into a flexible space, a radical venue which was to be a laboratory of fun. The Potteries Thinkbelt Project (1963-67) somehow complemented the Fun Palace. Exploiting a decaying railway junction in Staffordshire, Potteries Thinkbelt was an itinerant university for 20,000 students, an alternative to the traditional campus which – be it urban or rural – was then a dominating theme in the UK. This idea was based on reviving a hundred-year-old railway system no longer in use, which would transport people between housing and learning areas converting the cars themselves into mobile teaching units. Complete with inflatable lecture theaters, foldout desks, and information carrels, the units could be combined and transferred to various sites as needed. Price undermined architecture as a discipline, anticipating many contemporary challenges: the extreme dynamism of society, new technologies, the relationship between space and time. Along this line of thoughts, the paper questions the present relevance of Price’s experimental projects, focusing on some urban and architectural themes: the relationship between permanent and temporary spaces, the role of mobility, the role of institutions as elements of a potential network, challenging the binary opposition between centralization/decentralization.

The "Machines" of knowledge: Cedric Price's Topicality

F. Bonfante
2021

Abstract

Laying emphasis on the role of educational and leisure structures, this paper explores the contribution made by Cedric Price to the debate about decentralization and the future of cities in the UK of the 1960. At a time when machines were gaining ground in the systems of production, somehow undermining the relationship between work and leisure, Price mobilized his understanding of cybernetics and game theory to conceive a new relationship between man and architecture based on the machine. His approach became clear in the Fun Palace (1960-66), a multi-purpose building which could be assembled and disassembled, conceived in collaboration with theatre Director Joan Littlewood. Price upgraded mass leisure from idleness to emancipation, reinterpreting the Corbuserian machine à habiter into a flexible space, a radical venue which was to be a laboratory of fun. The Potteries Thinkbelt Project (1963-67) somehow complemented the Fun Palace. Exploiting a decaying railway junction in Staffordshire, Potteries Thinkbelt was an itinerant university for 20,000 students, an alternative to the traditional campus which – be it urban or rural – was then a dominating theme in the UK. This idea was based on reviving a hundred-year-old railway system no longer in use, which would transport people between housing and learning areas converting the cars themselves into mobile teaching units. Complete with inflatable lecture theaters, foldout desks, and information carrels, the units could be combined and transferred to various sites as needed. Price undermined architecture as a discipline, anticipating many contemporary challenges: the extreme dynamism of society, new technologies, the relationship between space and time. Along this line of thoughts, the paper questions the present relevance of Price’s experimental projects, focusing on some urban and architectural themes: the relationship between permanent and temporary spaces, the role of mobility, the role of institutions as elements of a potential network, challenging the binary opposition between centralization/decentralization.
Machines of Knowledge, Complex building, Education, Leisure, Invention
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11311/1201545
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