The Measures Taken

A defunct site housing papers, articles and lengthier disquisitions by Owen Hatherley, now blogging only at Sit down man, you're a bloody tragedy.

Saturday, February 10, 2007


Patterns and Plans

Architectural Drawings of the 1960s

Gordon Cullen, for Homes for Today and Tomorrow (Ministry of Housing, 1961)

An intriguing by-product of the 1960s' architectural fetish for the ex nihilo was its proliferation of deeply peculiar drawings. A budding Piranesi or Chernikhov would have all manner of opportunity to sketch out their own particular vision of a collective future, and in so doing created something as jarring in its schematic, rectilinear design as Library Music LPs or Penguin Book covers, only less lauded, perhaps because of the realities that the plans would degenerate into. They would be mocked by writers like Jonathan Raban by the 70s as depictions 'strangely tapering humanoids' who couldn't mess up the immaculate architecture and the geometric certainties of the town plans. Actually the images from this time veer from genuinely rather terrifying images of technocracy that evoke something to break the will of Number Six in The Prisoner, to really quite cute scribbles of happy proletarian families in their open-plan Parker Morris apartments. The pictures below, designs for projects built and unbuilt, fantastical and mundane, (all British with one obvious exception) present various different patterns of the future, unified perhaps only by their optimism, for better or worse...(click on pics to view the little peoploids)

Alison and Peter Smithson, Sheffield University Project, 1953

Gordon Cullen, for Homes for Today and Tomorrow (Ministry of Housing, 1961)

Cedric Price's Fun Palace, 1961

From the Master Plan for the unbuilt New Town at Hook, Hampshire (Greater London Council, 1961)

Alison and Peter Smithson, early sketch for Robin Hood Gardens, 1964

Cedric Price, Oxford St Corner House, 1966

From the GLC Publication Thamesmead (1968)

Norman Foster and Buckminster Fuller, 'Climatroffice', 1971

From Rolf Schonknecht, Gyorsabban- de Hogyan (Leipzig/Budapest, 1976)

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