Arthur Quarmby

Corn on the Cob, 1962

With Corn on the Cob, Arthur Quarmby adopted the principle of the “plug-in”, already utilized by Ionel Schein in 1956 in his mobile hotel cabins as well as by Archigram in several of their projects. In this project the architect developed a principle for hooking and unhooking dwelling pods on a central pillar of 160 meters in height: “The supporting mast is composed of rings equipped with massive cantilevered arms from which the spatial pods are hung. A pivoting crane, placed atop the mast, enables the mounting and dismounting of the pods.” The drawing shows the diamond-shaped pods hanging from the outstretched arms. This system enables the absolute mobility of the habitat based on a primary receiving structure. The pillar is designed both as a technical shaft as well as an axis of circulation and access to each unit. This project is a powerful manifestation of the influence of forms and principles inspired by nature. The biomorphism of each unit and its interior layout resembles biological pods or organs while the system borrows its growth model and life cycle from the vegetal world. In the 1960s and ‘70s, “vertical street” projects, a hollow column from which plastic pods were hung, were sprouting up all around the globe (Paul Maymont and James Guitet in France; Paul Rudolph in the U.S., etc). The Japanese Metabolist movement placed a particular focus on developing this idea. The Nakagin Capsule Tower Building (Ginza, Tokyo, 1971), designed by Kurokawa, was the first structure of this type actually built. Today, this revolutionary building typology continues to influence the most cutting-edge architectural experimentation, notably for aspect of permanent adaptability of the construction that it makes possible (KOL/MAC, Resi-Rise Skyscraper, 1999).

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