In the work of the Archigram group, architecture was about change, possibilities, and alternatives. In the 1960s, at the height of its activities across publishing, teaching, and exhibition-making, the group—comprised of Warren Chalk, Peter Cook, Dennis Crompton, David Greene, Ron Herron, and Michael Webb—was largely seen as a peripheral agitant to the architectural mainstream. The last five decades have, however, shown the broader influence and relevance of Archigram’s speculative projects. As one of the earliest to explore architecture’s engagement with transformations in urbanism, technology, and popular culture, and to address the rise of the user-consumer in a globally interconnected and hyper-mediated world, Archigram left an indelible mark on how architectural practice is understood in relation to society. This is evident in the work of generations of practitioners both within and outside architecture.
In 2018, the Archigram archive entered the collections of M+. Through its dense layering of infrastructure, media, and commerce, Hong Kong can be read as an ‘Archigram city’, and the archive’s presence here offers the potential to trace new, situated lines of inquiry in architecture and visual culture.
To mark this occasion, M+ is organising a series of events—online and offline—in November 2020, in collaboration with the Department of Architecture at the University of Hong Kong and the Power Station of Art in Shanghai. Titled Archigram Cities, the events embed the Archigram archive in its new home and introduce Archigram’s work to new audiences, through encounters between members of the Archigram group and architects, scholars, students, and the wider public from Hong Kong, mainland China, and elsewhere. The programme is part of M+ Matters, a series of discussions that informs the museum’s curatorial approach, as well as M+ International, a platform for partnership with institutions around the world that addresses shared interests and challenges. In this collaborative framework, Archigram Cities proposes to expand readings of Archigram’s practice with transnational and cross-disciplinary perspectives.
M+ Matters: Archigram Cities Online Symposium
Organised with the Department of Architecture, University of Hong Kong
Resulting from an open call for papers announced in August 2019, this symposium reappraises Archigram through interpretations of the group’s work in relation to the histories and practice of architecture and urbanism across a wider set of geographies. Organised as a series of four sessions—with each session focusing on a distinct inquiry into Archigram’s work across the issues of inhabitations, figurations, and transmissions—the symposium includes presentations by historians and architects Annette Fierro, Ariel Genadt, Evangelos Kotsioris, Lai Chee Kien, Li Han, Simon Sadler, Hadas Steiner, Tsukamoto Yoshiharu, Mark Wigley, Roger Wu, and Liam Young. In the countercultural spirit of Archigram, presentations will be followed by a ‘Trash History/Theory’ video response by Archigram, before a panel discussion.
Zoom 1: Inhabitations
Date: 4 November 2020 (Wednesday)
Time: 10:00am–12:30pm (Hong Kong)
Zoom Wave Hits Architecture – Simon Sadler
Housing Subjectivities: From the LCC to Uncle Wilf – Annette Fierro
A Home is (Still) Not a House – Hadas Steiner
Worlds Less Travelled – Liam Young
Moderators: Eunice Seng and Joshua Bolchover
Zoom 2: Figurations
Date: 6 November 2020 (Friday)
Time: 7:30–9:30pm (Hong Kong)
-GRAM – Li Han (Drawing Architecture Studio)
Take the Weather with You: The Malaysian Exhibit at the Commonwealth Institute – Lai Chee Kien
Learning from Archigram – Tsukamoto Yoshiharu (Atelier Bow Wow)
Moderators: Roberto Requejo and Ying Zhou
Zoom 3: Transmissions
Date: 10 November 2020 (Tuesday)
Time: 7:30–9:45pm (Hong Kong)
Connecting the Archigram Spirit with Hong Kong – Roger Wu
Dismantling Architecture: Archigram and Isozaki in Osaka 1970 – Ariel Genadt
Plug-In Communism: Archigram’s Influence on Soviet Architectural Counterculture – Evangelos Kotsioris
Retransmitting Archigram – Mark Wigley
Moderators: Shirley Surya and Zhu Tao
M+ Matters: Archigram Cities – It's Archigram!
Organised with the Department of Architecture, University of Hong Kong
Building on the series of discussions, this event re-introduces Archigram’s practice through screenings of Archigram 1967 (1967) and Archigram Opera (1972). Produced by the BBC, Archigram 1967 was the group’s first publicly broadcast film. Archigram Opera, produced by Dennis Crompton, is a multimedia projection of an audiovisual distillation of Archigram’s thinking, work, and references over more than ten years of activity. This is the first online presentation of both Archigram 1967 and Archigram Opera. The screenings are followed by a discussion—an architectural gossip session—with Peter Cook, Dennis Crompton, David Greene, and Michael Webb to reflect on their engagement with film and mass media, as well as the affinities and dissonances they experienced in an international network of experimental architects in the 1960s and 1970s.
Date: 13 November 2020 (Friday)
Time:7:30–9:30pm (Hong Kong)
Moderators: Aric Chen and Eunice Seng
M+ International x Power Station of Art: Archigram Cities
As part of Power Station of Art’s ongoing interest in presenting the works of avant-garde architectural practices, this event is organised with M+ to focus on the relevance of Archigram’s ideas for experimental practices in China. Archigram’s work is introduced through screenings of Archigram 1967 (1967) and Archigram Opera (1972). The screenings are followed by a discussion with Archigram members and presentations by Li Han (Drawing Architecture Studio), Liu Jiakun (Jiakun Architects), Ma Yansong (MAD Architects), Yung Ho Chang (Atelier FCJZ), and Meng Yan (Urbanus). The event brings Archigram’s methodology and vision of future cities into dialogue with influential architects in China whose work resonates with the group’s activities.
Date: 21 November 2020 (Saturday)
Time: 4:00–8:30pm (Shanghai)
Venue: Power Station of Art (200 Hua Yuan Gang Road, Huangpu District, Shanghai)
Moderators: Shirley Surya and Aric Chen
Language: English and Mandarin, with simultaneous translation onsite
Live Streaming Platform: Bilibili, with simultaneous translation in English (available 16 November 2020 onward)
‘M+ Matters: Archigram Cities’ is organised by Shirley Surya (Curator, Design and Architecture, M+), Aric Chen (Professor of Practice, College of Design & Innovation, Tongji University), and Eric Schuldenfrei (Head, Department of Architecture), Eunice Seng (Associate Professor), and Roberto Requejo (Lecturer) of the University of Hong Kong Department of Architecture, with Noel Cheung (Curatorial Assistant, Design and Architecture, M+).
‘M+ International x Power Station of Art: Archigram Cities’ is organised by Shirley Surya (Curator, Design and Architecture, M+), Aric Chen (Professor of Practice, College of Design & Innovation, Tongji University), and Zhang Lili (Head of Learning Department, Power Station of Art), with Jennifer Wong (Assistant Curator, Design and Architecture, M+) and Xia Chengyue (Learning Department Project Planner, Power Station of Art).