Ron Herron. Walking City on the Ocean, project (Exterior perspective). 1966

Ron Herron Walking City on the Ocean, project (Exterior perspective) 1966

  • Not on view

Traversing the ocean, the units of Herron's Walking City represent a kind of technological utopianism—military submarines are combined with insectlike exoskeletons and periscoping legs. Each unit of the city contains a comprehensive set of urban resources. Linked by a superstructure of retractable corridors, they form an instant and itinerant metropolis. Here collage is used both to circulate an idea and to propose a new architecture of circulation: Herron’s work was disseminated through small magazines as image–based virtual architecture; the surreal elements of collage—simultaneous viewpoints, depth, and flatness—are instrumental to proposing a city that not only walks but adapts to endless change.

Gallery label from Cut 'n' Paste: From Architectural Assemblage to Collage City, July 10–December 1, 2013.
Additional text

Herron, a founding member of Archigram, the British group known for its admixture of science fiction and pop culture, created Walking City out of an indefinite number of giant roaming pods containing different urban and residential areas and resources. Traversing the ocean, they represent a kind of technological utopianismmilitary submarines are combined with insect-like exoskeletons and periscope legs. Linked by a superstructure of retractable corridors, they form an instant and itinerant metropolis that not only walks but adapts to endless change. Disseminated through magazines, the collage was used to circulate a proposal for a new architecture of circulation.

Gallery label from From the Collection: 1960-69, March 26, 2016 - March 12, 2017.

Ron Herron describes himself as an architect who "attempts to make architecture by fusing building, technology, and art to make something 'special' for the user." He was a founding member of Archigram, the British group that generated some of the most influential architectural work of the 1960s and "70s through admixtures of science fiction-like imagery and popular culture. Like his contemporaries in Archigram, and like the Austrians Raimund Abraham, Hans Hollein, and Walter Pichler, Herron produced an architecture rooted in advanced technology. Not surprisingly, the city was one of the most popular subjects of Archigram's creative visions, which made "Living Cities," "Plug-In Cities" and "Walking Cities" exemplary possibilities of this truly organic evolutionary form.

Walking City on the Ocean is one of Herron's many drawings addressing the concept of indeterminacy, or of an architecture that can change. The Walking City comprises a series of giant vehicles, each containing the static elements of the urban aggregate and all collectively making up a metropolis. For Cedric Price, an architect who shares concerns with Archigram, the parts of the Walking City were living creatures that "roam the globe forming and reforming." There is a military quality to their tanklike structural vocabulary, described in Herron's strong graphic language, although no tank would have their skylightlike tension-skinned roofs. In fact the Walking City is not unlike some of the engineering accomplishments seen at Cape Kennedy—mobile structures that traverse the landscape.

Publication excerpt from Matilda McQuaid, ed., Envisioning Architecture: Drawings from The Museum of Modern Art, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2002, p. 150.

Ron Herron, a founding member of Archigram, the influential British group known for its admixture of science-fiction and pop culture, created his Walking City out of an indefinite number of giant roaming pods containing different urban and residential areas. The pods could be connected by retractable corridors and, together, form a conglomerate metropolis. This literally mobile and indeterminate architecture was not so much a serious proposition for a structure as a commentary on the way in which change dominates every aspect of the modern city.

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. 54.
Medium
Cut-and-pasted printed and photographic papers and graphite covered with polymer sheet
Dimensions
11 1/2 x 17" (29.2 x 43.2 cm)
Credit
Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation
Object number
1203.2000
Department
Architecture and Design

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