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Arthur Quarmby
  • Architect (1934)

From the late 1950s on, Arthur Quarmby, directly influenced by the architect Ionel Schein whom he met in 1959, was experimenting with new architectural solutions derived from plastics that were modular, light and easy to transport. Following his first commission from British Rail (Relay Room System, 1959-61), he applied his principles to certain extreme situations requiring a temporary habitat, such as scientific expeditions or emergency shelter (Emergency Mass Housing Units, 1962) as well as for daily life. His interest in mobility in architecture developed further while working on experimental projects that were revolutionizing building typologies and their programs. In 1962, with Corn on the Cob he imagined a revolutionary “plug-in” system whereby dwelling pods could be hooked to a central mast. In parallel, he developed several inflatable projects (Pneumatic Structure, 1968), three-dimensional structures and domes that also provided climate control. His biomorphism (House and Garden, 1964) as well as his blending of natural and technological principles in many projects of this period testify early on to his interest in nature and the environment. In the 1970s, Quarmby heralded the emergence of “green architecture” with several “geotecture” projects; dwellings covered in earth that create continuity with the land, including his own house (Underhill, Yorkshire, 1974).

The English architect Arthur Quarmby (Holmfirth, 1934) maintained strong links with the post-war French architectural scene. In 1965, he joined the GIAP (Groupe International d’Architecture Prospective), thereafter going on to collaborate with the Habitat Evolutif association and Pascal Häusermann, Chanéac and Antti Lovag. In 1974, in his book, The Plastic Architect, he brought to the forefront the latest research around the globe on plastics. During the 1980s and ‘90s, he regularly contributed to several architecture magazines (Architects’ Journal, Building Design, etc.).