Plug-in City is one of many vast, visionary creations produced in the 1960s by the radical collaborative British architecture group Archigram, of which Cook was a founding member. A “megastructure” that incorporates residences, access routes, and essential services for the inhabitants, Plug-in City was designed to encourage change through obsolescence: each building outcrop is removable, and a permanent “craneway” facilitates continual rebuilding. Between 1960 and 1974, Archigram published nine provocative issues of its magazine and created more than nine hundred exuberant drawings illustrating imaginary architectural projects ranging in inspiration from technological developments to counterculture, from space travel to science fiction. The group’s work opposed the period’s functionalist ethos; Archigram designed nomadic alternatives to traditional ways of living, including wearable houses and walking cities—mobile, flexible, impermanent architecture that they hoped would be liberating.
Gallery label from 9 + 1 Ways of Being Political: 50 Years of Political Stances in Architecture and Urban Design, September 12, 2012–March 25, 2013.
Peter Cook, a founding member of Archigram, was instrumental in fostering the British counterculture in the 1960s. He promoted the view that the preceding modernist period's functionalist architecture was worn out. His proposed remedy, the Plug-in City, was a visionary urban megastructure incorporating residences, access routes, and essential services for its inhabitants. Intended to accommodate and encourage changes necessitated by obsolescence, on an as-needed basis, the building nodes (houses, offices, supermarkets, universities), each with a different lifespan, would plug into a main "craneway", itself designed to last only forty years. The overall flexible and impermanent form would thus reflect the needs and collective will of the inhabitants.
Publication excerpt from an essay by Bevin Cline and Tina di Carlo, in Terence Riley, ed., The Changing of the Avant-Garde: Visionary Architectural Drawings from the Howard Gilman Collection, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2002, p. 50.