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Design

The Prophetic Side of Archigram

It’s easy to see the controversial group’s influence in left field architecture from High-Tech to Blobism 50 years later, but it’s easier still to see it in emerging technologies and the way we interact with them.
View of the Kunsthaus in Graz, Austria. A landmark of Blobism, it was designed by Archigram founders Peter Cook and Colin Fournier three decades after their collective shut down.
View of the Kunsthaus in Graz, Austria. A landmark of Blobism, it was designed by Archigram founders Peter Cook and Colin Fournier three decades after their collective shut down.AP

A giant city crawls across the land like an insect. Airships drop cultural attractions onto unsuspecting villages. A hovercraft expands into an inflatable settlement. These visions, sparked by sci-fi novels and comic books, belonged to the collective Archigram, which existed from 1961 to 1974.

Even in a semi-mythic 1960s London in thrall to glamour, psychedelia, and “the white heat of [technological] revolution” espoused by the Prime Minister Harold Wilson, Archigram was controversial. Derided for their futuristic frivolity as much as they were admired at the time, half a century later, Archigram prophesied the future in ways they may not have even fully foreseen.