The Generator, an early investigation into artificially intelligent architecture, was designed with no specific program, but only a desired end-effect, in mind.
The project was commissioned by Howard Gilman for a site at the Gilman Paper Corporation’s White Oak Plantation in Florida to provide a facility to house dance, theater, and visiting artists. Cedric Price explored a type of architecture that, like medicine, would operate less as a remedy for the ills of society and more as a preventive system, creating flexible conditions previously thought impossible within a socially beneficial environment. This complicated project, for which many drawings and diagrams were made, was essentially a system of cubelike elements that could be moved and combined with others or with additional elements to create temporary structures for a rehearsal or performance space, housing, or just contemplation within a lush natural setting. It was intended to operate by means of a central computer with which a visitor would combine any of 150 of the Generator’s four-by-four meter, fully serviced, air-conditioned cubes, or walls, screens, gangways, and communications channels into a structure. The computer would encourage the visitor to continually refine and improve his or her design. In fact, change and artistic freedom are the underlying ideas of the Generator; they were considered prerequisites, and the computer was to be programmed to make unsolicited alterations should the framework remain static. Price’s intricate scheme to provide an environment dedicated to nurturing the arts was never built.
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. 156.
Cedric Price came on to the British architectural scene in the late 1950s, a time in which housing complexes, schools, industrial parks and new towns were springing up all over Britain. There was an overriding belief in a socially responsibly architecture and general feeling of optimism about the future and architecture’s capacity to improve the environment. Price, however, was determined that his work would not impose physical or psychological constraints upon its occupants nor reduce them to standards, as did modernist architecture. Through the pairing of humor and playfulness with complete conviction, Price’s projects all attest to his belief in an architecture that provides inhabitants as well as viewers individual freedoms. Technology, based on the paradigm of a flexible network rather than a static structure, played an essential role in Price’s work.
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. 56.