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Analyse ideas of social mobility associated with ‘The New Socialism’ proposed by Kevin Kelly in relation to the design philosophy of Cedric Price and the ‘Non Planners’

William Hetherington Cultural Context ArC6-1 Thursday 20th December 2013 Birmingham School of Architecture


Contents

Introduction Non-Plan and New Socialism Design Philosophy vs. Social Philosophy

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Precedent #1 Pruitt-Igoe by Minoru Yamasaki (1953) death of the American Modernist dream

3-4

Precedent #2 The Fun Palace by Cedric Price (1961-70) the Non-Plan dream of deregulated impermanency

5-6

Precedent #3 Nakagin Capsule Tower by Kisho Kurokawa (1972) The Non-Plan reality

7-8

Precedent #4 Master Plan for Eindhoven by Andrea Branzi (2000) an urban model for a new social economy in a turbulent virtual society

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Conclusion

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Bibliography

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Appendix Moodle topic forum contribution

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Introduction

Non-Plan and New Socialism Design Philosophy vs. Social Philosophy

Although few of his projects were ever built, Cedric Price (11 September 1934 - 10 August 2003) was perhaps one of the most influential architects of the mid-twentieth century. Born the son of an architect in the Staffordshire town of Stone and educated at Cambridge University and Architectural Association School of Architecture, with theoretical projects such as the Fun Palace and The Potteries Thinkbelt Cedric Price grew to become a key proponent of the Non-Plan movement in 1960s Britain. Emerging computer technology influenced a multidisciplinary concept known as cybernetics; concerned with exploring regulatory systems, the discipline encapsulated the study of physical, cognitive, mechanical, biological and social systems. The non-planners were strongly influenced by this field, as well as a disdain for what they saw as the restrictive planning regulations of the time. They believed these regulations were dooming the popular Modernist planning projects of the time to socio-economic failure. Their egalitarian philosophy called for a deregulated planning system enabled by cybernetics and pre-fabrication technology. They believed this would create self-regulated systems which would encourage less restrictive and more economically active architecture. Highly dependent on technology, proposed projects such as the Fun Palace were intended to last no longer than 20 to 30 years. This was quite deliberate as the Non-Planners believed architecture must never out live its usefulness and must be dismantled or demolished once it has become ineffective in its primary function. As a result of his philosophies some of Cedric Price’s proposals (Fig. 2) were quite revolutionary; “If we want an efficient parliament, let’s give it a whole efficient building to work.., replace the present historic monument with an up to date structure – flexible, accessible and dispensable.” (Price (1999) pp26) As the twentieth century has progressed the influence of computer technology has progressed to the point that we now live in a global digital economy and society. In his article in Wired UK magazine Kevin Kelly proposes that as a result of the free exchange of information on social websites such as Wikipedia, Flickr and Twitter we are now moving towards a global collectivist virtual society. He names this phenomenon New Socialism, where the traditional role of the state in creating a society with common goals is diminishing. Kevin Kelly is a

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well known journalist, not an architect, but his concepts can be applied to the discipline of architecture. In his book Weak and Diffuse Modernity Andrea Branzi (an associate of Archizoom Association) describes how architectural practice has moved from a state of conventional and solid concerns to concerning itself with Liquid Modernity (a term coined by sociologist Zygmunt Bauman). Branzi is inferring that contemporary architecture is no longer about the rigid physical or tangible constructs of traditional architecture; where the districts of a city serve clearly defined functions. Instead it is more about designing architecture around the virtual networks that the individualised members of modern societies and economies rely upon in order to create economic activity (Fig. 1). Clear comparisons can be drawn between the Non-Plan desire to move towards a self-regulatory planning system which deliberately lacks permanence, and how Branzi believes that contemporary architecture must facilitate “a highly complex and changeable reality that no longer corresponds to the figurative and rigid systems of architecture.” (Branzi (2000) p. 22). Both of these systems reject traditional zone planning and are reliant on technology to create innovative environments. In order to better understand how these issues have affected the theoretical and built environment of the architecture discipline I will compare and contrast four key precedents. The exemplars are Pruitt-Igoe by Minoru Yamasaki (1953), The Fun Palace by Cedric Price (1961-70), Nakagin Capsule Tower by Kisho Kurokawa (1972), and Philips Strijp Eindhoven Master Plan by Andrea Branzi (2000). The purpose of doing this is to understand the evolution of key themes. The three main themes for this comparison are; the socio-economic intention behind the designs, the influence of technology on the design and running of these projects, and how successful these projects were in achieving their socio-economic aims.


Fig. 1 - Diagrams by Andrea Branzi which represent the dematerialization of solid bodies to a liquid state as described by Zygmunt Bauman.

Fig. 2 - Cedric Price’’ sketch showing his vision for a new more efficient Westminster Palace.

William Hetherington Cultural Context ArC6-1 Thursday 20th December 2013 Birmingham School of Architecture

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Precedent #1

Pruitt-Igoe by Minoru Yamasaki (1953) death of the American Modernist dream

When Minoru Yamasaki designed Pruitt-Igoe in 1950s St Louis he adhered to the core principles of Modernism. Famous advocate of Post-Modernism and critic of Modernism Charles Jencks describes the moment when Pruitt-Igoe was demolished less than twenty years later in 1972 as the moment “Modern Architecture died” (Jencks (1977) p. 9). Pruitt Igoe was a visionary project to provide high quality apartment type housing for the working classes of overcrowded St Louis, but its widely televised demolition in 1972 (Fig. 1) was hailed by politicians and social commentators as a symbolic removal of a failed vision created by detached architects who failed to understand the need for activity and humanistic touches in architecture. “Its fate became the prototype for the detonation of similar projects in the United States and elsewhere. By the 1990s, in Britain, the great kerflumpf of a collapsing tower block became a form of civic festival, in which politicians would preside over bacchanals of cascading masonry.” (http://m.guardian.co.uk/ artanddesign/2012/feb/26/pruitt-igoe-myth-film-review (last accessed 17/12/2012)). The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Journalist and Urban Theorist Jane Jacobs, was a strong influence on the Non Planners of 1960s Britain. Her book was a polemic on what she saw as the failure to revitalise deprived derelict areas in New York through the use of Modernist urban renewal planning policies. These same policies were being adapted by the American government across the country in post World War II America as a solution to overcrowding. Jacobs strongly advocated an approach of grassroots regeneration; economic activity was encouraged through a systematic approach of renovating the existing buildings and infrastructure. However, it is perhaps inaccurate to describe the Non-Planners as AntiModernist. Instead they were against the blanket adoption of Modernist planning policies by the government. They believed these policies being forcefully imposed in every circumstance was ill-considered; “the planning system as now constituted in Britain, is not merely negative, it has positively pernicious results. The irony is that the planners themselves constantly talk - since the appearance of Jane Jacob’s Death and Life of the Great American Cities - about the need to restore spontaneity and vitality to urban life.” (Price (1999) p. 21). These revolutionaries wanted architecture to be exciting and liberating, not restrictive and formulaic. Crucially they believed

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architecture should be user adaptable and not designed as a permanent solution. Minoru Yamasaki not necessarily an aloof architect who didn’t understand the needs of ordinary people, “Yamasaki professed humanity, harmony and his opposition to prejudice, beliefs born of his experiences as a put-upon Japanese American. He laid out Pruitt-Igoe according to the best principles of the modern movement: an orderly plan in which cars and pedestrians were separated, ample open space was provided between the blocks, and flats were oriented to catch daylight and views.” (http://m.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2012/feb/26/pruittigoe-myth-film-review (last accessed 17/12/2012)). The quoted guardian article is reviewing the film The Pruitt-Igoe Myth: an Urban History directed by Chad Freidrichs. In the film residents of Pruitt-Igoe are interviewed and they describe how happy they were with the design of their apartments (Fig. 4) upon first moving in. The interviews reveal that it was not because the Modernist design principles were too aloof and inappropriate for the working-class residents; instead it was actually the technology of the lifts, water pipes and garbage incinerators that failed. The authorities planned to pay for maintenance through rent payments but as the residents were poor, rent payments were not enough to cover costs. Without proper maintenance the apartment blocks quickly fell into disrepair; exacerbating the poor resident’s difficult social circumstances. Crime and violence took hold and the final solution was demolition. “’It would be here today if it had been maintained like it was when it opened up,’ says one of the voices, ‘but it went down and down and down and down.’” (http://m. guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2012/feb/26/pruitt-igoe-mythfilm-review (last accessed 17/12/2012)). The Non-Planners might have argued that the project should have been designed to last no longer than 20 years from the start. Had it been designed with this in mind the technology might have been more adaptable and the project might have been more effective in its life span at achieving its aim of socially elevating the underprivileged. They would be free from physical constraints imposed by traditional architectural constructs.


Fig. 3 - The symbolic demolition of Pruitt-Igoe, 1972.

Fig. 4 - The interior of an artpartment in Pruitt Igoe, 1962.

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Precedent #2

The Fun Palace by Cedric Price (1961-70) the Non-Plan dream of deregulated impermanency

“Why all this lot? ‘If any nation is to be lost or saved by the character of its great cities our own is that nation.’ Robert Vaughan, 1843. We are building a short-term plaything in which all of us can realise the possibilities and delights that a twentieth-century city environment owes us. It must last no longer that we need it.” (Price (1999) p. 23)

Britain was suffering a decline in traditional industries. Price saw the traditional educational institutions as restrictive, exclusive and ineffective in reversing the loss of practical skills in the British working-classes. His Fun Palace project was designed as all inclusive and was intended to be open for all. There were no walls, barriers or defined entrances.

Although it was never built, one of Price’s most influential projects was the Fun Palace. The project encapsulated radical ideas for how the public would be able to control their own environment though the use of innovative technology. In order to allow the user to control their own environment an elaborate system of cranes was to be used (Fig. 6). These cranes would move, assemble and disassemble pre-fabricated wall panels, floors and escalators in order to create spaces for diverse uses such as theatres, workshops or cinemas (Fig. 4). When these components become surplus to requirements they are simply scrapped and new components are brought in.

Much like how Le Corbusier’s early Modernist projects (such as Ville Contemporaine) embodied his obsession with the automobile and aeroplane as the technological embodiment of modernist design principles. Cedric Price saw the helicopter, monorails, trains, hovercraft, rapid transit systems such as the London Underground as well as the car as the ultimate embodiment of technology and its progressive potentials in terms of mechanical and social mobility. Many of his projects, the Fun Palace in particular, were designed around the idea of arriving in these elaborate forms of transport (Fig. 5). He believed these networks of mobility should be arranged in such a way as to facilitate the movement of people from underprivileged areas to areas of social opportunities, “Cedric Price has pointed to the major upheavals in social mobility which may follow the participation in higher learning of a greater and greater proportion of the population.” (Price (1999) p. 25)

“Choose what you want to do – or watch someone else doing it. Learn how to handle tools, paint, babies, machinery, or just listen to your favourite tune. Dance, talk, or be lifted up to where you can see how other people make things work. Sit out over space with a drink and tune in to what’s happening elsewhere in the city. Try starting a riot or beginning a painting – or just lie back and stare at the sky” (Price (1999) p. 23) Intended for a site in the East End of London, Price wanted to create a project which would socially elevate the public through a combination of fun and practical education. Post World War II

Akin to Pruitt-Igoe, the Fun Palace was reliant on technology to achieve its social aims. However, unlike Pruitt-Igoe, should the technological or spatial design elements that serve the Fun Palace fail then they could simply be removed and replaced with new elements that better meet the needs of the user.

Fig. 5 - Programmic Diagrams by Cedric Price show the variety and adaptability of spaces in the Fun Palace.

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Fig. 6 - Image by Cedric Price showing how one may arrive at the Fun Palace by helicopter.

Fig. 7 - Image by Cedric Price showing the moveable spaces, and the crane lifting systems.

William Hetherington Cultural Context ArC6-1 Thursday 20th December 2013 Birmingham School of Architecture

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Precedent #3

Nakagin Capsule Tower by Kisho Kurokawa (1972) The Non-Plan reality Kisho Kurokawa was one of the core members of a small but highly influential group of Japanese architects who formed the Metabolism movement in late 1950s Japan. Their principles were comparable to those of the Non-Planners. The Metabolism movement was routed in Buddhists beliefs of impermanency and adaptability and the belief that cities are constantly changing, living organisms. Their designs were akin to real life versions of the ‘plug-in-city’ seen in the famous Archigram collages created by Peter Cook (Fig. 9). Nakagin Capsule Tower was built in Tokyo Japan in 1972. It was designed by Kurokawa around the principals of Metabolism. Pre-fabricated living capsules could be plugged in or out of two more permanent concrete cores, attached via four high-tension steel bolts. These capsules or ‘pods’ were designed to house travelling businessmen. Measuring 4 x 2.5 metres these self-contained units contained everything a businessman could need; a radio, a phone, a TV, an alarm clock, a bed and a bathroom (Fig. 8 & 10). The structure stands 14-storeys high and houses 140 pods (Fig. 11). The adaptability of the design allows these units to be manipulated and rotated in order for them to connect to other pods; creating different spaces as the users desire. It also allows for the pods to be removed completely and replaced should they become outdated or ineffective.

Despite its design intention of impermanency the Capsule Tower and its pods have become a protected entity within the international architecture community. “Residents of the tiny pods are now plotting its demolition; although the capsules were built to be replaceable, the building has not been maintained in over 33 years which has led to drainage and damaged water pipes. Architects from around the world are trying to work together to preserve the towers, considering all ideas and options.” (http:// www.archdaily.com/110745 (last accessed 18/12/2012)). In a similar vein to Pruitt-Igoe the buildings services have not been maintained and the structure has become an objectionable place to inhabit, so the residents desire it to be demolished and replaced with a more up to date alternative. The NonPlanners and the Metabolists might argue that this is precisely what should now happen. The architectural community would possibly not mind seeing it adapted to something which better suits the needs of the users. The irony is that the high quality innovative design is of such a rare quality that theorists who appreciate the significance of the concept do not want to see it removed or its unique architectural character lost. It’s principals are too important and it must be preserved. Had Cedric Price’s Fun Palace been built in the 1960s, would this have been it’s fate today? Would it be a protected historical monument? A decaying reminder of the Non-Plan concept of impermanency and adaptability.

Fig. 8 - Axonometrics and plans of the pod layouts and how they attach to the central core.

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Fig. 9 - Plug-In City (1964) by Peter Cook of Archigram bares strong similarity’ to the modular buildings of the Metabolists.

Fig. 10 - Interior views of the pods.

Fig. 11 - External view of the pods and the two central cores, note the water damage visible on the exterior of the pods.

William Hetherington Cultural Context ArC6-1 Thursday 20th December 2013 Birmingham School of Architecture

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Precedent #4 Master Plan for Eindhoven by Andrea Branzi (2000) an urban model for a new social economy in a turbulent virtual society

When Andrea Branzi with Ernesto Bartolini and Lapo Lini proposed his master plan (Fig. 13) for the declining industrial zone of the Philips Strijp in Eindhoven he proposed a master plan where “young, diffuse entrepreneurship calls for the creation of intense relational spaces, an urban mix where residences, scientific research, laboratories, commerce, free time, and agriculture production are all indifferently layered one atop the other.” (Branzi (2006) p. 40). Much like Cedric Price’s Fun Palace, Branzi’s plan for Eindhoven was meant as a way of combining education and fun in a multilayered fashion in order to stimulate the socio-economic progression of the previously economically undervalued individual. He was opposed to creating a traditional Modernist industrial project in Eindhoven. He didn’t want to enforce traditional social hierarchy and divide different functions into separate zones (Fig. 12). Highly influenced by Zygmunt Bauman’s ideas of Liquid Modernity, Branzi believes that “In the age of globalization, the laws of international competition force the industrial system to enter into the market solely on the condition that it is able to propose products or services different or alternative to those already in existence... Innovation, therefore, becomes indispensable for the survival of enterprises... this is also the result of a new creative social economy, made up of small business owners and independent workers who carry out aesthetic and technological research in territories (districts) with a high density of cultural information and human exchange” (Branzi (2006) p. 41).

to be economically successful Branzi believed the districts with different functions must be planned in a multilayered fashion (Fig. 14 & 15) so as to facilitate social interaction and stimulate innovation where ideas from research, management and production are freely shared and exchanged. This virtual exchange of information is made possible by the unprecedented developments in digital technology which started in the 1990s and is continuing today. Branzi’s concepts for the Eindhoven master plan bare strong semblance to Kevin Kelly’s notion of a virtual society based on collaboration and cooperation and the free sharing of information. “The notion of a third way is echoed by Yochai Benckler, author of The Wealth of Networks, who has probably thought more than anyone about the politics of networks. ‘I see the emergence of social production and peer production as an alternative to both state-based and marketbased, proprietary systems’ he says, noting that these activities ‘can enhance creativity, productivity, and freedom’”. (Kelly (2009) p. 124) The Eindhoven master plan relies on the technology of the internet. The Fun Palace, designed by Cedric Price, relied on the technology of pre-fabrication, cranes, and mechanical mobility. The technology has evolved and moved on from the 1960s and the possibilities have expanded to allow us to create projects which are better at exploiting the potentials of technology to socially elevate individuals in the virtual economy of the digital world. The social concepts for Branzi’s Eindhoven master plan is a clear homage to Cedric Price’s forward thinking innovations and revolutionary concepts conceived in the 1960s.

In order for the new master plan of the declining Philips Strijp Fig. 12 - Diagrammatic comparison of traditional economies and the economy of innovation; showing how production processes must now mix within a highly connected system in order to constantly create new ideas.

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Fig. 13 - Model of the new master plan for the Eindhoven Phili ps Strijp by Andrea Branza, Lapo Lini and Ernesto Bartolini.

Fig. 14 - The three agricultural stri ps that dissect Eindhoven. Urban models must now incorporate agriculture in order to facilitate the constantly changing, innovative nature of digital western economic activity.

Fig. 15 - The patchwork multilayered design for Branzi’s Phili ps Strijp master plan.

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Conclusion

Many architects have dreamt of creating a world of social equality. Le Corbusier aspired to achieve social equality by designing cities planned with the automobile at the centre of society (Fig. 15). Cedric Price and the Non-Planners wanted to create social equality by using technology to take power away from the authorities and give it back to the individual. However, few of the social achievements of architects can be compared to the vast social upheaval which the internet has created in the process of generating a global digital economy. Whilst the internet was not Cedric Price’s idea it could be said that his innovative social concepts were very similar to the intentions of social networking websites such as Twitter or Facebook. If one is to look at the personal page of Facebook inventor Mark Zuckerberg he states in his ‘About Me’ section that “I’m trying

to make the world a more open place”. This sentiment could almost have been uttered by Cedric Price when describing his intentions behind the design for his Fun Palace. Few of Cedric Price’s projects were ever actually built; his aviary at London Zoo (Fig. 16) is one of a handful of his projects that was actually realised. One can’t help but wonder what would have happened had projects such as the Fun Palace or the Potteries Thinkbelt been built in the 1960s? Would they have had the same effect on society that Facebook and other social networking sites are having today? Perhaps in building these websites the pioneers of digital social media are finally making Cedric Price’s dream of social equality a reality and not just an inspirational theory.

Fig. 16 - Le Corbusier’s Ville Contemporaine (1922) aimed to achieve social equality through designing cities around the automobile.

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Fig. 17 - The London Zoo Aviary (1960-1963), designed by Lord Snowdon, Frank Newby and Cedric Price

Fig. 18 - A diagrammatic representation of the No-Stop City (1969-1972) by Archizoom. A city enabled by technology, constantly changing and adapting to the needs of it’s innovative users.

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Bibliography

Books • Branzi, Andrea (2006) Weak and Diffuse Modernity, Milan, Skira • Jacobs, Jane (1961) The Death and Life of Great American Cities, New York, Random House • Jencks, Charles (1977) The New Paradigm in Architecture; The Language of Post-Modernism, New Haven, Yale University Press • Price, Cedric (1999) Cedric Price’s Non-Plan Diary in Non-Plan – Essays on Freedom participation and change in modern architecture and urbanism, eds S. Sadler and J. Hughes, Oxford, Elsevier • Zygmunt, Bauman (2000) Liquid Modernity, Cambridge, Policy Press

Journals • Kelly, Kevin (2009) The New Socialism, Wired UK, July 2009, pp 120-125

Websites, Films, Documentaries, Radio Shows • http://www.archdaily.com/110745 (last accessed 18/12/2012) • http://m.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2012/feb/26/pruittigoe-myth-film-review (last accessed 17/12/2012) • Bart Lootsma - Architecture in the 2nd Modernity documentary • The Pruitt-Igoe Myth: an Urban History directed by Chad Freidrichs

Images • Cover Image, Fig. 5, 6 & 7 - http://www.cca.qc.ca/ en/collection/283-cedric-price-fun-palace (last acessed 19/12/2012) • Fig. 1, 12 & 18 - scanned from Weak and Diffuse Modernity, p. 22, 42 & 21 • Fig. 2 - scanned from Cedric Price’s Non-Plan Diary in Non-Plan – Essays on Freedom participation and change in modern architecture and urbanism, p. 27 • Fig. 3 & 4 - http://lebbeuswoods.wordpress. com/2012/02/10/two-worlds/ (last acessed 19/12/2012)

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William Hetherington Cultural Context ArC6-1 Thursday 20th December 2013 Birmingham School of Architecture

• Fig. 8 & 11 - http://www.designboom.com/architecture/ kisho-kurokawa-nakagin-capsule-tower-building/ (last acessed 19/12/2012) • Fig. 9 - http://archigram.westminster.ac.uk/project. php?id=56 (last acessed 19/12/2012) • Fig. 10 - http://www.archdaily.com/110745/ad-classicsnakagin-capsule-tower-kisho-kurokawa/ (last acessed 19/12/2012) • Fig. 13 - http://europaconcorsi.com/projects/17116Masterplan-Strijp-Philips-a-Eindhoven/images/2221593 (last acessed 19/12/2012) • Fig. 14 & 15 - http://architettura.it/architetture/20020219/ index.htm (last acessed 19/12/2012) • Fig. 16 - http://www.themodernist.co.uk/2012/03/lecorbusier-modernist-of-the-month/ (last acessed 19/12/2012) • Fig. 17 - http://socks-studio.com/2011/09/07/cedric-priceaviary-at-the-london-regent-park-zoo-1963/ (last acessed 19/12/2012)


Appendix Moodle topic forum contribution http://moodle.bcu.ac.uk/biad/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=20545

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Kevin Kelly's 'New Socialism' and Cedric Price and the Non Planners  

Architecture essay analysing ideas of social mobility associated with the 'New Socialism' proposed by journalist Kevin Kelly in Wired magazi...