Course - School of Design 'Elizava', Barcelona 2007


Professores: Suzane Strum y Gonçalo Furtado (Professor Convidado)

SESSION 1 - Cedric Price´s Generator
Informacion complementar, vease: Gonçalo Furtado, Towards a responsive Architecture - Cedric Price´s Generator and Systems research", FAUP (Report Supported by FCT), March 2006. (Investigação realizada com o apoio da Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia.)

"Towards a responsive Architecture - Cedric Price´s Generator and Systems research
Gonçalo Furtado -… Repor for - F . A . U . P - March 2006.

PART 0 - Introduction
0.1 - Research outline (p.1)
0.2 - General overview (p.4)
0.3 - Abbreviations and sources (p.6)
PART I - The history of Generator
1.1 - Howard’s art initiatives - the rise of Generator (p.7)
1.2 - The feasibility study - collecting and researching (p.12)
1.3 - 'It’s valid' - the subsequent design development (p.21)
1.4 - An inclusive teamwork - the consultants’ cooperation (p.31)
1.5. - The just one - The regeneration process and the first 'Menu' (p.41)
1.6 - Reports - Specifying the building components (p.50)
1.7 - Test - first experience and prototype (p.64)
1.8 - Envisioning the building and its subsequent suspension (p.74)
PART II - Technological responsiveness and its legacy
2.1 - The Frazers - Cybernetic systems and models (p.82)
2.2 - Returnings - Later proposals and its legacies (p.94)

PART 0 - Introduction
0.1 - Research outline
This … presents a large research on one of the seminal architectural projects engaged with cybernetics - the Generator conceived by Cedric Price. The relevance of this research consists of two aspects: first it provides the complete historical account of the project and second it explores the significance of its cybernetic engagement.
Generator was a project developed during the second half of the 70s; it began in late 1976 and was suspended around 1979-80 when some preliminary works to the building process had already been undertaken. Nevertheless this original Generator would be revisited twice as proven by some existing evidences. This was mainly due to John Frazer, who became involved in the project in 1978 as system consultant, and whose latter efforts continued to challenge Price to push the Generator further, along with the cybernetic research that it represented.
Today the Generator is … acknowledged as an unquestionable masterpiece that was able to break through the architectural state of the art of its time, in both technological and philosophical terms. ...
Our research on the Generator project is structured by three vectors that mix-overlap ...; and … [it] was based on original written material that was mainly afforded to us through an exhaustive research at the C.C.A. ...
The first vector, corresponds, in general terms, to the rise and development of the project by focusing on the evolving relationship between Cedric Price and its main client – one owner of the Gilman Paper Company - Howard Gilman. In parallel, it will also advance some ... related with the architect’s exchanges-interactions with some Company personnel involved in the process, with the client’s personal assistant Natalie, with his Art consultant Pierre Apraxine (especially in the definition of the paper brief), and with MoMa’s employee Barbara Jackobson, and who would also become his consultant known as the ‘Polorizer’. In particular, one wishes to highlight the project’s cultural dimension, including the specific contributions afforded by those involved in the project and on the envisionement of its future performance. In parallel it will also advance some fragments related with the architect’s exchange with Mr. Wallace Price, the manager of a company property named Wild Oak Plantation for where the project was conceived.
The second vector focuses the architect’s professional exchange, with his U.K. and U.S. technical consultants, namely with those directly engaged with the project …, and also with other personnel with whom there was a share of correspondence and thoughts. It wishes to focus particularly on the technological dimension of the design, from its initial phases of programmatic research, through the site survey, and to the calculations and detailing stages. In parallel, it advances some ... parts related with the last phase of the project, consisting of the preliminary work to the building construction phase such as the site preparation, the prototype construction, and the consultation of building industries. It focuses on a variety of material that was produced by the office during the design process, as well as correspondence and insights afforded from other personnel who were consulted for the building materials and the prototype construction.
The third vector focuses the decisive-crucial engagement with John and Julia Frazer, including their contribution of parallel research undertaken at Ulster Polytechnic and Autotronics and, most specifically, to the project’s cybernetic dimension. It also describes two posterior visits to the project after the … [suspension] of its original version in 1979-80, covering a period of the subsequent two decades that goes almost until today. In parallel, one ... take into account the development of Frazer’s own research, from its early ‘Intelligent three dimensional Modelling system’, … up to its actual ‘Evolutionary Architecture’ perspective. … Additionally, this last part includes a …conclusion highlighting how the project provide a … ground … to speculates on the subject of contemporary and future developments that, on a technological and conceptual level, afford from the Generator experience. ...

0.2 - General overview
The project was developed by Cedric Price in order to answer to a program that, initially, was not completely defined, ... .
The design process began by encompassing meetings, visits to the site, photographic surveys, enquiries, reports, etc., and gradually some drawn work.
The answer to an open, multi-use program would become marked-influenced by Price’s characteristic tendency-tone for a dynamic architecture that has the ability to evolve in order to answer to shifting activities and desires. Cedric used his characteristic gastronomic jargon, denominating the activities as ‘appetites’ and all plan spatial configurations as ‘menus’.
Price’s proposal synthetically developed into an orthogonal grid of foundation-bases, tracks and linear drains, into which a mobile crane would dispose a kit of parts made up of cubes, screening posts, decks, suspended and ground circulation networks, which allowed for multiple arrangements.
The cubes, in particular, were the basic unit for spatial enclosure in which any association would result as temporary. They were made of timber open-frame structures that were to be filled with a number of modular infill components, ranging from moveable cladding wall-panels to furniture, services and fittings.
All the design components were conceived as interrelated, and one notices, for instance, an accurate design attention to the correspondence of the grid with the site, the cube enclosures with the network of circulation and screens, etc. In addition to this, the viable articulation of it all was in itself a complex design process that required the study of a multiplicity of geometries and functional requirements. One also notices that all the components were chosen or superbly detailed by the architect, although they were always to be understood as a menu of components designed to facilitate change. Such flexibility-indeterminacy allows to respond to a multifunctional program, to particular changing aspects (as sunlight variation or pretended views), and, in general, to the unpredictable choice by the user.
In fact a permanent transformation afforded from the users’ participation-appropriation and displacement of mobile fittings; and they were even promoted-stimulated through the help of some technology. In order to achieve this, a special role was given to cybernetic technology, and Cedric Price would go on to invite John Frazer, an ex-professor of his collaborator Nick Bailey, with expertise in the field.
John Frazer develop his research within a department of Computer Aided Design simultaneously with his own business platform “Autographics”, conducted by his wife, the Architect Julia Frazer.
Cedric Price and his project would receive particular insights from John Frazer’s inspiration on Von Neumann’s Cellular Automata concept and from his awareness and understanding of the latest cybernetic developments. The building ended up having chips and sensors connected to a microprocessor; which enabled several computational programs to provide assistance form the design process to the building stage and even react against its performative ‘boredom’ by creatively stimulating the regeneration of the complex.
One must note that, in the future, John Frazer would, at Ulster, Hong Kong and at his Unit at the A.A., continue to advance a research on ‘morphogenetic processes’, …. The title of his book ‘An evolutionary architecture’ makes an explicit allusion to the idea of an Architecture that embraces a process of evolving simultaneously with the user and with society.
In the late 70s, the Generator did prove to be crucial in terms of expressing a relevant evolution from the ‘first order cybernetics’ aesthetics of communication and control (that had yet marked the Fun Palace two decades before) to an idea of ‘intelligent building’. ”

(in: Gonçalo Furtado, "Towards a responsive Architecture - Cedric Price´s Generator and Systems research, FAUP (Report, supported FCT), March 2006.

SESSION 2 - Cedric Price's Japan Net



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