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Instant City

©Philippe Magnon

Instant City, 1968-1970

Peter Cook
(Archigram)
  • Architect (1936)
www.archigram.net

In 1963, the architect, theoretician and professor Peter Cook founded the Archigram group, with Warren Chalk, Dennis Crompton, David Greene, Ron Herron and Michael Webb. In 1961, he and David Greene had already launched the magazine with the same name, which, owing to its innovative comic book look, with speech bubbles and onomatopoeias, broke with the approach of architectural publications of the day. Influenced by Pop Art, he reinvented architecture for the age of the consumer and leisure society: architecture through drawing, enriched with references to advertising, popular culture, early manifestations of information technology and science-fiction. A person with high media exposure, often presented as the lead architect at Archigram, Peter Cook participated in the group’s main projects: Instant City with Ron Herron and Dennis Crompton, and Plug-in-City with Dennis Crompton. In 1975, following the breakup of the group, Peter Cook created his own firm, in collaboration with Christine Hawley. His theoretical focus evolved towards more pragmatic construction projects where the spirit of references to Archigram always remained implicit (Lutzowplatz Housing, Berlin, 1993; Stadel Academy, Frankfurt, 1989-91; Osaka Folly, Osaka, 1990). Sensitive to the principles underlying plant growth, his projects have sought to develop a dynamic and organic relationship with urban spaces. Thus the Kunsthaus in Graz, Austria (with Colin Fournier, 2003) spreads a gigantic, transparent, fluid and partially opaque membrane made of acrylic plates in the historic center of the town. The many ventricles covering its surface, which are illuminated at night, turn the cultural center into a sort of “living” architecture, a beating “heart” whose pulsating energy brings the city to life. A tireless inventor, Peter Cook left his mark on 20th century architecture and is currently pursuing his research with the CRAB Studio, Peter Cook Gavin Robotham Architecture Bureau.

In 1958, following his study of architecture at Bournemouth College of Art, Peter Cook joined the Architectural Association in London, where he began teaching in 1964. He was a professor at the Städelschule in Frankfurt from 1984 to 2004, and at the Bartlett School in London, which he reorganized and where he directed the department of architecture from 1990 to 2006. In 2005, he created his firm, CRAB STUDIO, where, in collaboration with Gavin Robotham, he develops iconic architecture, as shown in his competition entries for the New Street Station in Birmingham, UK, and for the Verbania Theater in Piedmont, Italy. A member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts, Peter Cook has been awarded many prizes, among which RIBA‘s Royal Gold Medal in 2002 for Archigram. Sir Peter Cook was made Knight Bachelor by the Queen of England in 2007 and participated in developing the plans for the Olympic Stadium in London for the Games in 2012.