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RAE 2008, RA2 - H 30

GREENE, David +

Identifier:   8010831183658

Output 4      (Design)


RAE 2008, RA2 - H 30


Identifier:   8010831183658

Output 4      (Design)

General description:
The Disreputable Projects of David Greene is a book written and edited by David
Greene and Samantha Hardingham. The forthcoming book was commissioned by the
Architectural Association (AA) in 2006, but is the result of research carried out since
2003. It documents a lifetime of highly eclectic and delightfully capricious work by the
truly original architect thinker. Contents include Greene’s 5th Year diploma thesis, his
specific contribution to Archigram as well as ongoing preoccupations with ‘invisibility’
and a forty-five year engagement in architectural education. Samantha Hardingham’s
editorial role has been in challenging the form of the architectural monograph by
devising a mode (both physical and intellectual) for the publication that is true to the
original work and its temperament, and, displays architectural drawings, imagery and
recent commentary as integral to the written thesis. Additional invited essays included
are by Prof.Robin Middleton and Dr.Sand Helsel. The AA has subsequently
commissioned an exhibition of the same name to take place in April 2008. The
exhibition will display existing models, drawings and texts included in the book as well as
some newly commissioned models designed in collaboration with young practitioners,
that demonstrate the ongoing discussion around selected projects. Part of the content
of the book documents the development of these new models.

Research Questions:
   1. To explore the challenging architectural questions set by eminent architect
       David Greene, which overturns assumptions of conventional practice in a range
       of ways, including privileging mobile structures, clothes, the environment and
       portable or invisible technology over buildings as the principle way of organising
       our lives and society.
   2. To develop a book form which operates both as critical exploration and
       collection of the work, and as ongoing part of this research-design work of the
       subject matter in itself.
Aims and objectives:
The project seeks to form the first major collection and critical re-examination of these
highly regarded, influential and ongoing projects, forming the first major retrospective of
the particularly elusive, challenging and highly influential projects of David Greene

The work of Archigram is well known to the international art and architectural
community, it is well documented and exhibited around the world. The group was
awarded the RIBA Gold Medal in 2002. As co-founder of the group, David Greene’s
name and work is inextricably linked with Archigram, with his most well known projects,
such as Living Pod and Logplug reaching iconic status in their own right, but always in the
context of the aims of the group.

To trace the work of a single member of the group may seem incongruous. But, the
other major award presented to Greene in the same year, the Annie Spink Award for
Excellence in Architectural Education, combined with closer inspection of the work
pursued by him in the years after the unofficial ‘disbanding’ of Archigram in the early
1970’s, serves as a reminder that the group was made up of six quite different
personalities with contrasting sensibilities and means of expression.

Greene is often referred to as the ‘poet’ in the group. His contribution to Archigram 1
was in the form of both a building project and a poem that expressed their ideals. His
writings whether in a film script or a student brief are potent tools for describing a new
kind of creative ‘atmosphere’, in which the ‘disreputable’ corners of the imagination are
as vital as they are humane. Fellow Archigrammer, Peter Cook, went so far as to call
Greene ‘doctrinaire’. He takes this as a compliment – firmly believing in the notion that
to reveal all the inventive potentials of an idea it must be pursued to its most logical end
– but would strongly assert that this is rarely achieved in a meaningful way without
practical considerations and exposing of truths. Anyone who has had a conversation or
tutorial with Greene knows that he is as interested in what you read in the newspaper
and the kind of boiler you have in your flat as whether you have resolved a particular
detail in your project.

Earlier projects (up to about 1965) are clear explorations into form finding, determined
by contemporary technologies, often those employed outside of conventional realms of
building construction. However, they are driven by a desire to challenge accepted
definitions of type, use and performance in an attempt to keep apace with all cultural
expectations (what he describes as “what most people are doing most of the time”).
By the early 1970’s, Greene became increasingly disillusioned with architecture’s
obsession with forms that supported out-moded lifestyles. His interests were more
keenly focused on the technologies of the 20th century, i.e. television, the media,
computing and robotics - and little did he know at the time – also those of the 21st
century, namely mobile and wire-free. His ‘moratorium on building’ sets the tone for all
later work that explores the architectural consequences of these technologies, and is at
the core of his research into the architecture of the culture of smaller and faster.

Research methods:

The research methodology for this project has on the one hand followed a conventional
approach, sourcing and bringing together both catalogued work and uncovering original
reference material and previously unpublished work. A process of interviews relating to
specific projects has provided the authors with a means to generate accurate project
descriptions and a place to reflect on the work with the ‘benefit of hindsight’.
Conversations with collaborators have been recorded and provide additional material
incorporated into appropriate project areas.

On the other hand, both book and exhibition have been created , jointly by Greene and
Hardingham, as an ongoing part of Greene’s design, research and questioning work.
The book's format combines the critical, organisational, descriptive and archival role of
the typical architectural retrospective with the imaginative, lateral, visual, exploratory
and open-ended techniques of the book-as-architectural-project, as produced in various
highly idiosyncratic versions by architects throughout history.

Projects and material from the book have so far been presented at over 50 talks and
lectures delivered internationally over the years by David Greene including in the UK,
Tokyo, Paris and Seoul. His work is continuously exhibited around world, as part of the
touring Archigram exhibition and his own ‘Living Pod’ model has appeared in its own
right in exhibitions such as "Future City: experiment and utopia in architecture 1956 to
2006" at the Barbican Art Centre, London (2006) and "Tomorrow Now", MUDAM,
Muse d'Art Modern, Luxembourg (2007)). Samantha Hardingham has lectured, written
and is frequently invited as a panel member at a number of discussions on subjects
relating to this work such as at Tate Britain, London (2005) and at the Canadian Centre
for Architecture, Montreal (2004).

The book itself will be published in 2008, distributed by AA publications through its own
network, and accompanied by the exhibition free and open to the public. AA
exhibitions are widely reviewed and AA publications have an influential global network
of dissemination both formally through normal bookselling procedures and informally
through the AA as institution, venue, bookshop and workplace for people from around
the world.

Esteem Indicators:
David Greene is part of globally renowned and influential group, Archigram. Their work
is revered and discussed now by leading academic figures such Anthony Viler, Mark
Wrigley and Ram Kolas. The group was awarded the RIBA Royal Gold Medal 2002
Also Greene was personally awarded the Annie Spink Award for Excellence in
Architectural Education in 2002. Greene’s drawings and models are collected by major
art galleries around the world, such as the Pompidou Centre, Paris and the FRAC
collection in Orleans, France.

Samantha Hardingham is internationally respected as an architectural author and editor.
Her published works vary immensely from her acclaimed bestseller London: a guide to
recent architecture (ellipsis/Batsford – first edition pub. In 1993 and 7th edition currently
under revision) to a number of publications on the work of Cedric Price (2003-2006)
and a guest-edited issue of Architectural Design pertaining to the nature of content in
architectural publishing during the 1970’s (2004).
The Disreputable Projects of David Greene

Research carried out since 2003 with intention to publish content.
Written and edited by David Greene and Samantha Hardingham
Essays contributed by Prof. Robin Middleton and Dr. Sand Helsel.
Book design by Zak Kyes.
To be published by The Architectural Association (2008) to accompany a solo exhibition
scheduled for April 2008.

This document provides a SAMPLE of material sourced and identified (both previously
published and unpublished) during a four year period of research into the work of David
Greene. The earlier work - of which a SMALL SELECTION is shown here - exists in
close association with Archigram of which Greene was a co-founder. The nature of the
later projects differs greatly in their move away from conventional building proposals
and towards a more conceptual view of architecture – reflected in their means of
representation: fragmentary and in note form. The total content of the book will
comprise some 325 images and approximately 5000 words.

All pictures and original texts are treated as images, so wherever possible these will be
printed as close to their original format as possible, whether typed or hand-written as is
Greene’s wont. The intention is for the book to be both a visual feast whilst providing
detailed insight into this most original and inventive body of work.

The content of the commissioned book will comprise:
       projects and articles as outlined and grouped in the contents page below.
       accompanying texts written by David Greene specifically for the book, by way of
       description and reflection on the projects.
       contextual texts written by Samantha Hardingham by way of locating projects
       chronologically and conceptually (in bold itals).
       Invited essays – example shown here by Prof. Robin Middleton contextualizes
       the work in relation to Greene’s role as a part of Archigram and subsequently
       the influence of Conceptual Art on his later work and teaching.
Four years of research has brought together a scattered collection of projects and texts
by that sometime architect, inspirational teacher and founder member of Archigram.
The work illuminates the possibilities for architecture within a context of a culture that
is dominated by information technology: “the liberation of the building from the
conventions of architecture”. The main body of the work was carried out from 1959-74.
The potency of this period has been well documented, but above all it was a time when
political differences spread from the student riots in Paris to the bourgeois alternative
cultures of California. The intellectual and artistic difference that was expected and
revered converges here in Greene’s poetic and sometimes prophetic architectural
propositions such as Logplug, the Bottery and the Invisible University. They appear in a
drawing, a film, a script, a magazine article, a photograph, or a student project brief. All
of them question accepted definitions and applications of new technologies with dogged
and funny totality. Some of the projects were presented in issues of Archigram and
Architectural Design but all are published together here for the first time, under Greene’s
authorship and as a result of Hardingham’s investigation, direction and editorship.
The book will be accompanied by an exhibition of models including the original Living
Pod model which is held in the FRAC collection, Orleans, and new specially
commissioned works that will depict a 1:50 landscape of Greene’s electro-picturesque
architectural scenarios.


The liberation of building from the conventions of architecture – or finding new forms in
new technologies. GO TO THE ARCHITECTURE.

MOSQUE: text, drawings, models
Archigram 1 (front and back)
SPRAY HOUSE: text, drawings
ISCB MECHANIZED POD: text, one page drawing, sequence of Story of the Thing
Why 3 Cup styles - article
LIVING POD: text, sketches, drawings, model, drwgs of details, pod in building site
HIGH-RISE PODS: tech. spec text, drawings, model
Facts & Influences affecting our ideas – 3 page text
Are You Sitting Uncomfortably? - article

The liberation of habitat from the conventions of society and the re-cycling of consumer
products into the architectural arena. THE ARCHITECTURE COMES TO YOU.

L.A.W.u.N – Locally Available World unseen Networks.- Gardener’s Notebook
Girl on rock, mowbot, tomato, dashboard, All Watched Over poem
Instant City Children’s Primer- article
Design Museum installation images
THE BOTTERY - article
MONTE CARLO: text, image

Lifestyle changes and their effect on architecture – tools for de-urbansied man. TAKE


Designing a university appropriate to an information culture.


STUDENT PROJECT BREIFS: examples from Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Architectural
Association, University of Westminster, Bartlett.
                                                                             SAMPLE SECTION1

David Greene (b.1937) attended Nottingham College of Art and Design from 1954-59. Students of
architecture were expected to complete eight design projects between first and fourth years: an
information kiosk in a railway station, a pub, offices for a builder, a civic square, a house, an
open-air theatre, an air terminal and a downtown redevelopment called Maypole Yard. They were
always located in Nottingham. Greene’s Fourth Year tutor, Gordon Graham told him, “you only
have ideas about ideas, David.” In Fifth Year students submitted a topic for their Diploma thesis.

Mosque in Baghdad (1959)
At the time of making the project (1959) the city of Baghdad did not carry with it the
intense narrative that it does today. I chose it as a location because I knew, like myself,
that none of the staff had been there. At the time of making this project there was only
one mosque in England - in Woking, Surrey. Previously I had seen some very beautiful
black and white photographs of Baghdad. Some were taken from the air that very clearly
showed an extraordinary pattern of streets, alleys, roads, houses and courtyards. Within
this patchwork that ran down to the banks of the Tigris there was a gap, a large empty
space. I made it my site - a good place to build a mosque.- and found all the relevant
climatic information.

At the same time I had been asked to submit a topic for my Diploma thesis and I was
intent on finding the simplest functional brief that I could. I was intrigued by the mosque
as a type because as far as I could judge the liturgical requirements were minimal, and
there are only six main elements to such a building; the maksura (prayer room), the
mihrab (a niche or impression of a door sunk in the wall to indicate the direction
Mecca), the minaret, the liwan (an arcaded entrance courtyard) the mida-a (a fountain
and pool for washing) and the minbar (the pulpit from which the chapters of the Koran
were read). I added a school, which frequently was associated with a mosque. . )
These facts about the building’s function allowed a reduction of the project to as
unfettered an exploration of shape as possible. This way I could not be criticised for
errors of plan arrangement or omissions of rooms, but only on the basis of shape,
surface and structure. It was this latter aspect of the project that formed the working
method (for better or worse) that I scrupulously followed in all future work. Structure,
in this context, was meant to include conceptual structure particularly with reference to
technology, materials and technique. At that time I was firmly convinced that the only
reason to make a project was to endlessly forage around in the science and popular
science journals for new technology, new gizmos, new materials, anything new in fact,
and then speculate on what social, formal, conceptual effects or results this may have in
an architectural context… NO REAR VIEW MIRROR THINKING ALLOWED…

The technical origins of the mosque are not remarkable. They rely heavily on the Ferro-
cement methods developed by Pierre Luigi Nervi. But, unlike his structures, which often
employed the prefabrication of curved parts, the mosque intended to present a
continuous surface of complex curves: the uninterrupted skin of modernism.
Unbeknown to me at that time, Mike Webb was making his Furniture Manufacturer’s
Association Headquarters in High Wycombe, using the same methods of fabrication.

It would be possible to develop in this scribbling the historical origins of the structural
diagrams, which were a careful re-presentation of the Gothic section wrapped around
itself into a hyper-baroque object blurring-wall-vault-ceiling-floor-land into a continuous
flow. I saw it as the style that was to exceed the manic feats of late gothic structure. It
was a super-perpendicular-hyper-baroque building in its utter reliance on structure for
its effects. Some paintings of the outside by Lottie Spearpoint, and the original model
have been lost.

In 2007 Greene embarked on discussions with designer, Shin Egishira about possible
contemporary methods of fabrication for the mosque. Egishira has been developing a
method for making very thin concrete panels that can accommodate complex curves. A
new strategy for the making of the mosque has focused on interpreting its geometry,
although the aim has not been to make a faithful replica of the original model but rather
to use the original information to make a new interpretation in relation to both the
technology and the overall aesthetic presented in the original drawings.
Mosque (1958) model (top) and side elevation
Mosque plan (top) and section
Mosque sketches (top) and inclusion in Archigram 1
Bournemouth Entertainment Stack (1961): ref Architectural Design 11/65
This project was motivated entirely by a desire to make a model out of fibreglass - a
                                                                                                Deleted: initially
magical material - with formal possibilities, particularly with regard to shape and             Deleted:

translucency.                                                                                   Deleted: seemiungly
                                                                                                Deleted: 5

                                                                                                Deleted: .
As an introduction to this whim it should be seen in the context of a project I tried to
                                                                                                Deleted: A
do at art school in 1958 - to design an air terminal in the style of a Buck Rogers drawing
                                                                                                Deleted: S
(ref image). It was made out fibreglass panels attached to a metal frame. I was advised,        Deleted: b

quite categorically, that external architectural elements would never be made of this           Deleted: ,
reprehensible, shoddy material. In 1959, working in a London practice, James Cubbit &
                                                                                                Deleted: r
Partners, I found myself detailing some cladding panels in glass-reinforced plastic.            Deleted:
Remembering the advice of my tutors, I revisited the technology of spray plastics.
                                                                                                Deleted: Finding myself
                                                                                                Deleted: i
At the time this was a new material and not only did the resin smell quite divine, the          Deleted: and r
‘skin’ of the model could take on a translucency that was impossible to achieve with
                                                                                                Deleted: I
other materials. The model was made in my Hampstead bed-sitter. In the absence of the           Deleted: plastic form with plastic
                                                                                                material free fron the constraints
facilities to make a positive mould to form panels to lay the glass fibre on I mimicked the     of the office and attempmt to push

way the mosque model had been made by constructing a wire frame first.                          Deleted: b
                                                                                                Deleted: atci to a luiimit
                                                                                                Deleted: nsm
There is no particular reason for its title: I had no programme in mind at all whilst           Deleted: 9
                                                                                                Deleted: ux
making the model and as far as a site was concerned anywhere in any climatic zone was
suitable as long as it had a cliff - Bournemouth has a lot of holiday industry and good
                                                                                                Deleted: and whilst making the
cliffs - perfect! And maybe, it was a very small tribute to Peter Cook, Bournemouth             model no thought about
                                                                                                programmes was in my mind and
being the place where he had got his degree in architecture. “Leisure Factory” might            as far as a site was concerned any
                                                                                                site in any climatic zone that had a
have been a better title but it might just as well have been ‘Office Building “ or ‘Bulgarian   cliff was suitable., Bournemouth
                                                                                                seemed to be an appropriate
                                                                                                location if only as a small tribute
Embassy”. So even then the modernist assertion that had been so firmly placed in                to Peter Cook it6 being where he
                                                                                                had got his degree in architecture,
innocent young minds at architectural school was appearing more dubious and un-                 there was a lot of holiday industry
                                                                                                there and some good cliffs, perfect!
sustainable …but this is all beside the point - the motivation of the project is clear. To      Deleted:
explore a new material in order to produce new architectural shapes, forms and spatial          Deleted: 5
                                                                                                Deleted: irrelevent
                                                                                                Deleted: ‘create. (produce)
Model of Bournemouth Leisure Stack – night view
Bournemouth Leisure Stack - model
Bournemouth Leisure Stack - sketch
Spray House (1961): ref. Archigram 2 and AD 11/ 65.

Not exactly spray house but more dig-n-spray-n-polish.
The thought of living in a cave does not really appeal to me. However as a mold for a
kind of space you could make from the inside to the outside – a primitive poche, a re-
reading of the pueblo – now that does. The burrow–dissolve–complete fabrication
method makes a de-architecture – you do not know what you are going to find until the
crust dissolves. It does not permit the formal process of simultaneous tuning-up of the
interior and exterior. It is not at all concerned with the facades. The project was
another attempt to apply an emerging technology to a familiar architectural programme
in an extreme but entirely logical manner.

In this small house project the new technology was not actually a technology at all but a
set of new materials, foamed-polystyrene, glass-fibre and resin and a machine - a glass-
fibre and resin spray gun. It seemed to offer an ‘automatic’ architecture whose shape
would not be revealed until the interior, and a very personal, hand-made kind of interior
space, was complete: architecture guaranteed if you follow the instructions on the

At the time this project presented some opposition to the accepted definition of
architecture as that which concerns itself solely with the public realm, the interior was
no-one’s business but its occupants. It probably has more in common with deployable
structures, and continues to inspire rethinks in the form of full size prototypes. Inflate are a U.K. based company that have tested the inverse of the idea
using inflatable molds then spraying them - but it smelt really bad. The Spray House
more significantly serves as a provocation to material technologist/artist Zbigniew
Oksiuta who grows his enclosures in a lab in Cologne from of an edible
(if not very tasty) gelatin, specifically for zero gravity environments.
ICSB63.4 - Mechanized Pod House (1964)

This project was devised whilst Greene and the other Archigram members were employed in the
offices of Taylor Woodrow to work on designs for Euston Station.

There is one collaged drawing of this project. In retrospect it seems to be a hybrid of
Spray House and Living Pod (which we will come to shortly). In Living Pod, the machine has
found itself a site, it clings precariously to the surface of architecture rather than being
buried within it, sometimes crawling or nestling in crevices - a building becomes a kind
of host to these mechanical visitors.

The origins of ICSB63.4 are a bit confused in my memory...but I think it harks back to
the ‘Story of the Thing’, a floating space deck mega-structure that hovered above our
own or between planets. Mike Webb and I made it under our desks whilst we were
supposed to be working on drawings for Essex University at the Architects Co-
Partnership, until one of the partners became overwhelmed by the smell of Evostick and
gave us ‘an official warning’. ICSB63.4 was a detail of that floating network. At the time I
saw it as being a single large machine-house that would try to secure itself onto ‘The
Thing’. But now, having observed the way that robotics has reached into ever smaller
devices, I wonder if the mechanized pod might be quite small - part of a swarm - its
behaviour would have then been quite particular then. The words were as, or maybe
more important, than the collage of bits of machinery. Words as a kind of picture. They
attempt to describe a building in the language of the space programme or the notes on
an engineer’s drawing, an entirely mechanical explanation, a precise performance
specification. For someone consumed by the modernist idea of the house as a machine
for living in to re-present it in this literal way seemed a logical step. How can you change
architecture if you do not change the language and vocabulary by which it is described
and explained? The drawing was printed white on black so as to remember the blue-
print or perhaps make it more suitable for publishing in Popular Mechanic, my favourite
magazine at the time.
The Story of The Thing 1


ICSB.63.4 sketch
Pages from Architectural Design July 1968 – some of Greene’s communications from the U.S.A where he
                          was living and teaching at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Blacksburg, at the time.
   Living Pod (1965): ref. Architectural Design 11/66

                                                 There is never a new conception of housing
                                                               Richard Buckminster Fuller

The following text was written by David Greene to accompany the first set of
drawings and model. Greene worked on Living Pod during his time living and
teaching at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute in the U.S.A. He says that he learned
everything he needed to know from his teaching colleague Olivier Ferrari who
    1. understand what it means to have an idea.
    2. understand the complexity of simple things.
    3. understand the simplicity of complex things.
    4. everything must be drawn on a square piece of paper.
    5. start by designing a cube.
Ferrari also said, “a model is only a model when you see the idea first.”

   Paradigms: Trailer homes, ‘Prefabs’ etc.
   Development: The ‘house’ is regarded here as consisting of two major components:
   a living pod and attached machines.
   Part one: a pod (type KR2) 2-level GRP BS p91304. Colour bonded white. Twelve
   support nodes (6 tension, 6 compression). Four apertures (25 percent surface), 1
   access aperture, all with vacuum fixing seals, inner bonded sandwich of insulation
   and/or finish. Multi-purpose inflating floor 45 percent area.
   Part two: Machinery, 4 automatic self-leveling compression legs for maximum 5ft 0in
   water or 40percent slope. Two transparent sectionalized sliding aperture seals with
   motors. Transparent entry seal with ramp and hydraulics. Two wash capsules with
   electro-static disposal, air entry and total automatic body cleansing equipment. One
   only with total body immersion possibility. Two rotating silos for non-disposable
   clothing, sundry dispensers and silos for disposable toilet and clothing objects etc.
   Vertical body hoist. Climate machinery for temperature zone (with connections to
   inflating sleeping mats and warm section of inflating floor). Non-static media, teach
   and work machine with instant transparent cocoon ring. Inflating screens to sleep
   Although this capsule can be hung within a plug-in urban structure or can sit in the
   open landscape it is still a ‘house’. Really one is left with a zoom-land trailer home.
   Probably a dead-end. A basic assumption about housing has always been that a
   human being needs a house, an assumption that must be reassessed in terms of the
   possibility of increasing personal mobility and technological advance. Anything is
   probable. The outcome of rejecting permanence and security in a house brief and
   adding instead curiosity and search could result in a mobile world – like early nomad
   societies. Suitaloon and [Mike Webb’s] Cushicle would be the tent and camel
   equivalent; the node cores oasis equivalent around which would cluster communities
   conditioned by varying rates of change. It is likely that under the impact of the
   second machine age the need for a house (in the form of permanent static container)
   as part of man’s physiological make-up will disappear.
   With apologies to the master the house is an appliance for carrying with you; the
   city is a machine for plugging into.

Appraisal#2 (2007)
The Living Pod ,not quite an appliance for carrying with you more trying to be a
‘collection’ of appliances was my last foray into the world of shapes. Nevertheless, it
was a project driven by the use and passionate interest in ‘coalface’ technology and the
necessity for the surreal development of new vocabularies to describe the projects. In
the example of the Pod the technology was woven glass fibre sprayed with resin over a
rotating cocoon - a means of fabrication researched by the Canadian army for
lightweight deployable dwellings - and the vocabulary described the house as something
more mobile, something whose value lay only in its usefulness, as if it were a collection
of domestic appliances. Initially the Pod, (apart from the very first sketch which showed
trees and suggested a landscape or garden location) was deliberately conceived as being
context free and was represented in both writing and drawing as such. If you could walk
on the moon then context could never present any insurmountable technical difficulty
on earth. It was to possess the aesthetic objectives of consumer objects - white goods
like fridges and dishwashers, in addition to all the other aspects of the objects that we
are familiar with such as short life, recyclables, cheapness etc. It was then clearly
necessary to see what happens when you put a lot of pods together in a project that has
exactly the same conceptual intentions.
The multi-pod-wall was such a project which tried to explore a way of assembling a
large number, (or more accurately a large changing number) of these pods into one
housing block that opposed the conventions of this type, stairs corridors lifts etc., with a
short-life autonomous easily replaceable-tunable consumer based architecture clipped
into a frame that would be so minimal as to be almost invisible. This structure relied on
new tension technology and had to be entirely stable whether empty or full.
Each pod whatever its size or shape had to conform to a standardised fixing regime and
various specification limitations in particular on weight and autonomy. Maximum
freedom in each plot was intended assuming infrastructural services - such as water
(supply only) or power - would be rented from an ad-hoc crazy arrangement of pipes
and wires flapping across blobs of flowing surface, through abandoned plots - the
twitchy ballet of the robotic service arms. And through and above this heaped
cacophony of shape, time and colour is glimpsed the sky…bliss.
                    Sketch of resin cocoon fabrication process

Sketch (lower) showing how Living Pod might plug into servicing
First sketch of Living Pod 1964

 Section of Living Pod to scale
Plan – lower level

Plan – upper level
Nonstatic eating machine - elevation (top) and plan

    Nonstatic learning and work machine – model
Top views of model
                  Interior view

           Inflatable sleep level

Nonstatic eating machine model
High-rise Pods

There is only one sketch of Living Pod (the very first) that shows trees and a suggested
landscape or garden location. Subsequently it was deliberately denied any context,
because it was intended to be beautiful wherever it was placed, just like a car. The point
of making the high-rise pod wall was to explore customization of parts and ways of
assembling a large array (or more accurately a changing number and variety) of pods
into an autonomous, utility-free scaffold structure – a pod in its parking lot. Utilities
come to the pods as smaller more localised infrastructures as and when required –
water and electricity delivered to each site, although each pod has its own
interchangeable waste system. Some more long-term residents (and by long-term I mean
maximum five years occupancy) might cooperate over communal waste facilities – pods
and framework draped in bundles of pipes perhaps.

The scaffold had to be entirely stable when either empty or full. Each pod has fixing
points to connect to the framework that would flex and recalibrate themselves (much
like a modern car suspension) with regard to changes in weight and arrangement, in
order to allow the maximum freedom in relation to any one plot. You are looking at a
high-rise campsite, a field of apartments. The original model was destroyed.

                                                    Transparency of elevation of High-rise pods
An incomplete document found during research which outlines
      part of the technical specification for the High-rise pods.
High-rise model
A funding application (undated) by Greene and Webb begins to describe the context for projects
                    such as Living Pod, Cushicle and Suitaloon – funding was denied on this occasion.
David Greene. Works.
essay by Robin Middleton – 2007 - DRAFT

       David Greene has been around for some time as one of the Archigram six. They

have been exhibited here, there and everywhere; in November 2002 they were even

awarded the RIBA Gold medal, yet it is with no lack of regard that one can say that to

the wider architectural public David Greene remains little known. The Archigram show

was from the first taken over by the irrepressible and hyper-productive Peter Cook.

Hardly was an idea but tentatively advanced than he would rush it into a drawing. Many

of Archigram’s ideas thus remained undeveloped – though it is fair to note that without

Peter Cook’s drive the group would not have existed.

       Archigram emerged in the exuberant 60’s, when a fierce attempt was made to

break down conventions, to turn the world upside down. Anything could be given a

value anew. The prime inspiration, of an architectural kind, came from Buckminster

Fuller, together with his reinterpreter in London, Cedric Price. Reyner Banham spurred

them all on (Reyner Banham and Peter Cook lived almost opposite one another in

Aberdare Gardens, Warren Chalk was later to move there too). But Archigram did not

emerge fully formed, nor did it have a single focus. The assembly was loose and

fluctuating from the start. Peter Cook (b. Southend-on-Sea, 1936), a student of

Bournemouth College of Art and the school of the Architectural Association in London,

encountered David Greene (b. Nottingham, 1937), a student of Nottingham School of

Architecture, in 1959, while working together for James Cubitt and partners. In this

same year Peter Cook made contact with Michael (Spider) Webb (b. Henley-on-Thames,

1937). Webb was the first to spring to public attention. His viscerous design for a

Furniture Manufacturer’s Association in ferro-cimento, done in autumn 1958 in his
fourth year at the Regent Street Polytechnic in London, was published, quite

prominently, on 19 March 1959, in a news section of the Architects’ Journal devoted to

student work. The editor of the section was John Hodgkinson (Outram), editor of

Polygon, who later taught at the Regent Street Polytechnic. Webb’s design was featured

again in an article by James Gowan on architectural education in the Architectural Review

in December 1959. The project prompted a short-lived fashion for “Bowellist”

architecture, not much admired by established critics though it was to be vigorously

defended in April 1961 against Nikolaus Pevsner’s attacks at the RIBA (see RIBA Journal,

April 1961) by Reyner Banham - the “Bowellist” label was formulated, ironically, by

Webb, in response to a comment by Pevsner in his lecture on the return of historicism

in architecture, delivered at the RIBA on January 10, 1961, broadcast by the BBC in the

following month. Webb recalls Pevsner as saying, “within the schools there are some

disturbing trends; I saw the other day a design for a building that looked like a series of

stomachs sitting on a plate. Or bowels, connected by bits of gristle.” And this might

well have been what Pevsner did say on one of these occasions. However, the printed

records differ. The RIBA version as recorded in the Journal and as published in Studies in

art and architecture, reads: “And again it is baffling to read in the Architectural Review

James Gowan commenting on this actual design and saying that it is a particularly fine

example of the work done recently at the Regent Street Polytechnic and their rather

specialized preoccupation with structural techniques. The building purports to be

showrooms for the Furniture Manufacturers’ Association.” The BBC broadcast, as

recorded in The Listener, of February 16, 1961, is again different- “The controls of

function as established in the first third of this century… are now relaxed. How fatally
relaxed they can be you can see in the exhibitions of students’ work from the most go-

ahead schools. I remember particularly vividly the showrooms for the Furniture

Manufacturers’ Association by a student who was certainly not lacking in initiative. The

building was abstract sculpture of a doughy, rooty, bony or gristly kind, not the

functionally best solution, nor economically justifiable solution, nor acceptable in terms

of townscape.” The drawings had already been included in the Museum of Modern Art’s

exhibition, “Visionary Architecture”, that opened in late September 1960, recorded in

Arts and Architecture in January 1961. The matter was further debated by Pevsner and

Banham at the Architectural Association on 7 December 1961, the discussion published

in the AA Journal in February 1962, p. 158-169.

       Webb’s equally problematical and equally celebrated fifth year project for an

Entertainments Centre (soon to be known as the Sin Centre) for Leicester Square,

London, of 1959 to 1962 (rejected again and again by his examiners; he was awarded his

diploma only in 1972), was published in Architectural Design in November 1963. But long

before that Cook, Greene and Webb had teamed together to produce the first issue of

Archigram, no more than a broad-sheet, that appeared in May 1961. This was nominally

edited by David Usborne. He offered a motley assortment of recent projects – works

by the “Christian Wierdies” (Quinlan Terry, Andrew Anderson and Malcolm Higgs), a

cinema by Timothy Tinker, a concert hall by John Outram, another by Edward Reynolds

(already dead), a seaside development by Steve Osgood, but most notably Webb’s

Furniture Manufacturer’s Association building, a competition design for the

redevelopment of Piccadilly Circus by Cook and Gordon Sainsbury, and a mosque for

Baghdad, a reworking (it is dated 1960) of Greene’s fifth year design (of 1958 and 1959)
almost as unacceptable to his examiners as Webb’s fifth year project. The architecture

offered, as already noted, was of a heterogeneous kind. The overriding idea, as

expressed in a poem by Greene, was to rudely reject the lackluster architecture being

produced in the name of the Bauhaus. But Greene also offered a hostage for the future:

                      synthetic design and instant

                      plans and niceness and reasonableness

                      and flat buildings lie heavy in the bowels

                      As clouds whisper across the sky

                      and earth smells explode the heart

       In 1961 Cook and Greene, working together with Crispin Osborne (also

encountered at Cubitt’s), entered a competition for a new Civic Centre for Liverpool.

Their plan was free-flowing and, as far as may be, unstructured by formal geometry. The

original drawing of the elevation does not survive; the one that is offered now presents

an evenly textured, encompassing blanket, of some interest. In any event, the design was

not permitted. Another entry, of the discordant geometrical exposed concrete kind,

submitted by Warren Chalk (b. London, 1927), a student of Manchester College of Art;

Ron Herron (b. London, 1930), a student of Brixton School of Building and the Regent

Street Polytechnic, and Dennis Crompton (b. Blackpool, 1935), a student of the

Manchester University School of Architecture, all of whom had been working since

1960 in the Special Works Division of the LCC (later GLC) on the new art gallery and

concert hall adjoining the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank, London, was

commended and thus brought to public attention. Peter Cook once again made contact.

Archigram number 2, of 1962, edited by Cook (still working for James Cubitt and
partners) and Greene (who had moved meanwhile to the Architects Co. Partnership,

where Webb too worked for a time) contained some hard-headed housing projects by

Chalk and Herron and associates from the GLC – Halesowen, Birmingham of 1960;

Lillington Street, Westminster of 1961 – together with a pressed metal housing

extravaganza by Cook, Webb’s Sin Centre and an innovative proposal by Greene for

making a personal living warren – burrow your spaces out of a block of plastic foam,

spray the interior with a plastic skin, remove the residual foam and spray the plastic

cocoon yet again to create an impermeable outer skin. The accompanying texts, in

particular that by Warren Chalk, stressed an interest in the use of new technologies in

the making of spaces that might cater to new ways of living and expanding desires.

There was more, including a short essay by Cedric Price, “Activity and Change.” An

identifiable note had been struck.

       By then all six members of Archigram had been invited to join a team being

assembled by Theo Crosby (erstwhile Technical editor of Architectural Design) under the

aegis of the Taylor Woodrow Construction Company to design a vast new commercial

centre and station for Euston in London. Cook was the first of the group to arrive, in

1962, Chalk and Herron followed, at the end of the year, to be joined by Crompton,

Webb and Greene in 1963, when the architects’ office was established on the site.

There, no less than at 59 Aberdare Gardens, the next four issues of Archigram were

planned and produced – no. 3 “Towards a throwaway architecture”, Autumn 1963,

edited by Cook; no. 4 “Zoom” (comic cuts), Spring-Summer 1964; no. 5 “Metropolis”,

Autumn 1964, edited by Cook, together with Chalk and Crompton; and no. 6, Autumn

1965, with the same three editors. These established the reference and style of the
group. And they were given even more focus and public projection, once again under

Crosby’s protection, in an exhibition “Living City”, mounted at the Institute of

Contemporary Arts, in Dover Street, London, from 19 June to 2 August 1963. This

caused little enough stir at first. The Observer, in a “Quick Puff”, noted the oddity of

attempting to depict the vibrancy of the life of a city a few blocks from Piccadilly Circus,

the centre of London’s night life. Crosby advised Cook to use the one published review

as grounds for another press conference. There was more response on that occasion.

And a good record of the exhibition was included in the second issue, of 1963, of Living

Arts, a magazine edited by Crosby and John Bodley. The next and final issue of the

magazine, of 1964, included an article – the record of a lecture – by Banham “The

atavism of the short-distance mini-cyclist,” primarily concerned with the problems of

class and taste in contemporary Britain, in which he first recorded his take on

Archigram. With reference to both the exhibition and the “Throwaway” issue of their

magazine he was at the same time positive but guarded. But by 1965, when he published

“Clip-on Architecture” in Design Quarterly, no. 63 he had some very positive things to

say about the group and its aims. He took up the cudgels even more forcefully on its

behalf in “Zoom wave hits architecture” in New Society of 3 March 1966, in responding

to some snide and altogether dismissive comments that had appeared in the Architectural

Association Journal in January of that year. Thereafter he cheered them on.

       Crosby’s protective support came to an abrupt end in 1965 as the result of a

government ban of the year before on the building of offices in central London and the

collapse of the dream of constructing a great commercial hub over the station at Euston.

Crosby himself turned to graphics. He joined Fletcher, Forbes and Gill, which became
Crosby, Fletcher and Forbes, later Pentagram. But even before that there had been a

dispersal. Greene left in the summer of 1964 to take up a teaching post at the Virginia

Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg, where he remained for three years. Webb followed

a year after, moving later to Rhode Island School of Design. He lives still in the USA.

       The later careers of the members of Archigram need not be traced here. All

took up teaching, whether in the USA and Canada or in Britain or Germany. Though all

were to retain strong ties, both intermittent and continuous, with the school of the

Architectural Association. For a brief few years after they won a competition in 1970 to

build an entertainments centre on the waterfront at Monte Carlo (see Architectural

Design, 1970 1 p. 9-16; 1971 8 p. 485-497), it seemed that they might be able to make

some of their wildest fantasies real. Developers found more lucrative uses for the site.

The office that had been set up in London by Herron, Crompton and Cook survived

until 1975, but nothing was built. Herron was a partner in Pentagram from 1977 to 1981,

he worked briefly thereafter for Derek Walker Associates, but in 1982 formed Herron

Associates, which was responsible for the Imagination headquarters in Store Street,

London, completed in 1989. This was a successful, if token realization of some of their

exploratory ideas. Herron died in 1994. Crosby in the same year. Chalk had died in

1987, Banham the year after.

       After the break up of the Euston office Archigram continued for a time to appear

– no. 7 “Beyond Architecture”, December 1966, edited by Cook; no. 8 “Popular Pak”,

edited by Herron, Crompton and Greene; no. 9 “Archizones”, edited by Cook, ending

with a dispirited no. 9 ½ in 1970, edited by Herron, to be followed though by Cook’s
Art Net, nos. 1 and 2 of 1974 and 1975, and Net, nos. 1,2 and 3, of September 1975 to

July 1976.

       Despite common cause and despite much shared activity David Greene’s

individual contribution to Archigram can be isolated readily enough. The first detailed

survey of the works of the group was published in Architectural Design in November

1965, together with Banham’s “Clip-on architecture”. Included in the survey were

Greene’s “Mosque” of 1960 (Archigram 1), three competition designs done together

with Cook – the Liverpool Civic Centre, of 1961 (already noted), Berkshire County

Offices of 1962 (quite conventional) and Nottingham Civic Centre of 1962 (Archigram 3),

a spin-off from Price’s Fun Palace projects, together with three projects that strike a

more personal note, though clearly indebted to Frederick Kiesler’s Endless House, in

the version commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art in 1958 (the drawings and

model were included in the “Visionary Architecture” exhibition) – an entertainments

complex for Bournemouth, of 1961, the plastic spray house of the same year (Archigram

2) and a space house of 1964 (Archigram 4). Greene’s endless house was to coalesce

with a space capsule in 1966 to result in the “Living-pod” (see AD 1966 11 p. 570-572),

an impeccably styled and up-to-the-minute proposal for a well-serviced environment,

notionally readily moveable, though no suggestion was made as to how that might be

achieved. But for all the seductive styling and the nomadic promise, as Greene himself

noted, it remained essentially a “house.” “Probably,” he added, “a dead end.” The model

is today in the collection of the Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain du Centre, at

Orléans, in France, the most readily recognizable of Greene’s works.
       Directly following the “Living-pod” in Architectural Design was a proposal by

Webb, with Greene as “advisor, friend, mother, confessor, etc.,” for “Drive-in” housing

– cubical cars, each containing some basic services, that could be driven onto hydraulic

expanding frameworks studded with fully equipped service units around which clusters

of the cars might be assembled to make up temporary, ever-changing living

environments. “A home,” as Reyner Banham had so convincingly argued in Art in America

in April 1965, “is not a house.” Webb added a post-script to the proposition in the form

of a pared down version of the drive-in unit reduced now to a serviced frame and

inflatable bag that could become couch or tent. One could be, almost non-stop, on the

move. Life could become a permanent picnic.

       A transparent version of the “Living-pod” was published in Archigram 7 in

December 1966, but thereafter Greene more or less gave up on proposals of an

architectural kind. His moratorium on architecture had begun. Instead, he began to

publish assemblages of services and products that could cater to instant desires and

support a life on the run – “Why 3cup styles in our Wonder-Fill bra?”, AD 7 p. 314-315

– remote controls, cash-dispensers, fast foods, fast cars, snowmobiles, etc. – “Instant

City children’s primer”, AD 5 1969 p. 274-276 – more fast cars, campers and mobile

homes as also the first appearance of his Logplugs and Rokplugs, service and power

sources concealed by plastic covers of natural form, “with an embedded spore finish”, as

readily available to the traveller as petrol stations and fast-food restaurants. He also

offered a poem by “The Realist”.

               I like to think

                       (right now please!)
              of a cybernetic forest

              filled with pines and electronica

              where deer stroll peacefully

              past computers

              as they were flowers

              with spinning blossoms.

The Logplugs and Rokplugs were to have been dotted all over the grassy mound that

covered the Monte Carlo entertainments centre. Today Dekorra Rocks, “made with a

super tough high density polyethylene that is UV-treated,” designed to hide pipes and

taps and metres, are sold in catalogues in the USA.

       Greene’s arcadian dream was pursued quite modestly, even conventionally, at

first. He spotted a lawn mower that could be wired up to mow a back yard at regular

intervals, quite automatically – “Gardener’s notebook”, AD 9 1969 p. 507, where he first

introduced L.A.W.U.N., Locally Available World Unseen Networks. But he was moved

soon enough to take on the great outdoors, parks and prospects at first then the

landscape as a whole – “L.A.W.U.N. project number one” AD 8 1970 p. 385-387,

subtitled “An experimental bottery”, a bottery being conceived as a fully serviced

natural landscape (“Everybody wants a house full of robots but no one wants to look

like a house full of robots, so why not forget about the house and have a garden as a

collection of robots”). All kinds of devices and services were now listed. The Rokplugs

had become plastic cottages to conceal supplies. Yet more devices appeared in AD 9

1970, p. 436-437, 440-441, 444-445 (the pages could be assembled as a poster), to
culminate in AD 4 1971 p. 200-201 “Lawun project two”, with even more sophisticated

gadgetry. Nature by now was in the raw, in the gorge or the desert.

       For this free-wheeling world, one might note, Greene developed a free-wheeling

prose style, open and unstructured, quite poetical – perhaps like Banham in these years,

inspired by Tom Wolfe’s Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, of 1965, though

there was more of the kind even in Rolling Stone, and that before Hunter Thompson’s

triumph of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas of 1971. The last of Greene’s written pieces for

Architectural Design (1971 8 p. 496-497) was a film script composed with Michael Barnard,

in which he envisaged a return, as it were, to a noble and primitive state of life and

response, the hardware so reduced and sophisticated that it had become software –

“Perhaps this film is about restructuring your lifestyle in terms of software related to

time, rather than hardware related to space. Process rather than object.”

       The film that Greene made two years later with Mike Myers and his students at

the AA, “I remember architecture” (a nod to Warren Chalk) was compiled from clips

from a studio project in which students were required to project their ideal house and

discuss it. Greene opened the show in butcher’s gear (“Architects butcher cities”)

rejecting the very notion of an ideal architecture, indeed almost any architecture; it

should not be conceived as an arrangement of forms in space but as a mix of elements

that could adapt to the way we live or might want to live.

       The picturesque was at that time a hot potato. The Architectural Review was

noted, even acclaimed for its promotion in the post-war years of a picturesque aesthetic

– promoted in particular in the section on “Townscape”, with drawings by Gordon

Cullen – that conditioned much of the planning of new towns and housing estates and
even individual buildings in Britain. This was essentially an aspect of “The new

empiricism”, a Scandinavian import. An English grounding was preferred. Pevsner, the

editor most concerned with historical precedent had, quite willfully one suspects,

misinterpreted the eighteenth and early nineteenth century theorists of the picturesque

as precursors of functionalism – Uvedale Price in the Architectural Review in 1944,

Richard Payne Knight in the Art Bulletin in 1949. And he continued to propagate such

notions in the pages of the Review. No one of radical intent wished to be associated with

the new empiricism in any way. That could be rejected readily enough; but the

attractions of the picturesque remained a perplexity. Banham, for instance, a student of

Pevsner and a stalwart contributor to the Review, however much he might uphold the

mechanism of the modern movement, responded fully enough to the English landscape

tradition (fraught though it might be with issues of class). When he came to describe the

gardens of Stourhead he could not bring himself to believe that the forms had emerged

from what he called the soft options of Claude, he insisted instead quite obstinately and

incorrectly that they had sprung from the tough architectonic disciplines of Poussin. And

he continued to insist thus, even when he was proven wrong. (New Statesman 7

December 1962, and subsequent correspondence with Kenneth Woodbridge).

       Archigram was not much concerned with any debate on Claude versus Poussin,

but they shared something of Banham’s dilemma. Cook, Webb and Greene, not being

children of the big city, invoked the pleasures of the seaside, the landscape and the

garden again and again. Not so Chalk and Herron, both London born. Cook highlighted

the elements of his own “Arcadia” at length, in a rambling lecture printed in Architectural

Design in April 1971 – cows grazing in meadows, Stourhead and Rousham are of course
there, and much else besides “what could be more Arcadian,” he asked, “that

Bournemouth and Disneyland?” And he added as a postscript – “Arcadia is the only

collective term with which I could then (and even now) describe what is still only a

mood, or a hunch: that certain qualities of experience in the environment have been

touched upon in the more distant past, missed out in the rationale of the recent past,

but are nothing to do with formal or methodological tradition.” His dilemma was

complete. Webb followed up his “cushicle” with yet more sophisticated technological

wonders – the “Magic carpet and Brünnhilde’s magic ring of fire” and the “Fluid and air

wall” (AD 3 1968 p. 141) and the “Suitaloon” (AD 6 1968 p. 272) – but he followed

those up with elegiac renderings of James Wyatt’s domed temple, of 1771, set on an

island near Henley-on-Thames, where he was born. He clearly liked best, it would seem,

the picturesque vision. And David Greene, as described, searched endlessly for the

means to keep you out in the garden, the country, the desert, what have you, as long as

it was beyond architecture. The issue of Archigram most reflective of his thoughts,

number 9, had Plants by Greene, Butterflies by Webb and a packet of seeds. When

Greene was asked to name his magic spot in the British Isles for the “Treasure Island”

issue of AD, of June 1969, he poured scorn on the question - but nonetheless nominated

the Oxford Circus Underground station in London, a daffodil set on the turnstile,

betraying himself at once as a Wordsworthian. Even Cedric Price, who for years kept

the picturesque safely at bay, succumbed in the end to landscapes of moor and marsh,

sedge and ducks (these last for Hamburg, no less).

       Greene once discussed with me ways of learning to structure one’s thoughts. He

speculated on signing on for a PhD. We have different recollections as to the nature of
my response. I certainly dismissed the idea. He thought I was casting doubt on his

abilities. In fact I was rejecting a process that puts the mind in a rut – I habitually

discouraged students from pursuing a PhD. I recommended instead that Greene sign on

for a course in philosophy. He did neither. He carefully constructed a framework for his

own intellectual exploration instead. Teaching at Nottingham he met Victor Burgin (one

of whose first published works “Thanks for the memory” appeared in Architectural

Design in 1970, immediately following Greene’s “L.A.W.U.N. Project number one”) and

was opened up to the theory of conceptual art. Jack Burnham provided the initial

opening, in particular in his Software. Information Technology: its meaning for art, the

catalogue of an exhibition arranged at the Jewish Museum in New York in the autumn of

1970 – a follow on, as it were, to Jasia Reichardt’s astonishing Cybernetic Serendipity,

staged at the ICA, in London, two years earlier. Burnham’s exhibition however, was

littered with all manner of new technological equipment, not with art – instead art

propositions by artists such as Vito Acconci, John Baldessari, Hans Haacke and others.

What was on offer were the technological conditions for the movement of information

and ideas. The premise being that for information to become art it required to be

conceptually codified, it required human sensibility and sensitivity. The challenge was to

come up with an idea.

        Burnham’s Structure of Art, of 1971 (much revised in 1973) was more

instrumental, perhaps, in providing a framework for thought. Grounded in the theories

of Lévi-Strauss, Saussure, Barthes, Chomsky and Piaget, he swiftly summarized the

traditional approach to the history of art and offered his alternative structural approach,

providing analyses of the works of a carefully selected range of artists from Turner to
Buren, to argue that however varied their works might be in artistic expression they

were generated by the same structure of logic. What he offered, in effect, was a history

of Conceptual art. Duchamp was the hero.

       Joseph Kosuth was included in Burnham’s survey for his attempt to investigate

the logic of art in its relation to the logic of language. But it was Kosuth’s pioneering

essay, “Art after philosophy”, first published in Studio International at the end of 1969,

that most stirred Greene. Kosuth, like Burnham, aimed to define and limit the bounds of

Conceptual art; he was more limiting by far, in particular in his roster of artists of

correct credentials. Though Duchamp remained the key figure.

       Arguing that after Wittgenstein had trashed philosophy with the Tractatus in

1918, the role of logic, Kosuth thought, might properly devolve on art. Philosophy might

be replaced by Conceptual art. Formalist art must needs be abandoned, art must instead

become analogous to an analytic proposition. Art must be separated from the forms and

traditions with which it had long been associated; it must be separated from aesthetics,

the focus to reside no more on the form but on the meaning of what was being said –

the Concept.

       Whatever one might discern of such changing emphasis in the works of Manet or

Cézanne, it was Duchamp who was acclaimed as the initiator of modern art, acclaimed

specifically for his unassisted readymades. Appearance had with them been superseded

by conception. Artists after Duchamp could be thought to matter only to the extent to

which they could add something to the conception of art. And art might function only in

the context of art – as Sol LeWitt said “The idea becomes a machine that makes art”, to

which Donald Judd added “if someone calls it art, its art”.
       At one point Kosuth drew an analogy with architecture (falsely, one might think)

– good architecture does not depend on appearance but on the degree to which it

performs its function. Appearance in architecture, he held, as in art, should be

extraneous to function. The function of both art and architecture is its “reason to be”.

A quotation was offered from T. Segerstedt, “Meaning is always a presupposition of


       Greene was to take such writings to heart – and there were more of this kind,

Sol LeWitt’s aphorisms (“The idea becomes a machine that makes art”), Graham Gussin

and Ele Carpenter’s Nothing, of 2001, and others. And these ideas were greatly to inflect

his teaching, enabling him to lay stress always on the importance of the initial concept in

design, together with the hard logic requisite to give it expression. The potential conflict

in evidence here gave the edge to his teaching. This was not always an easy ride.

       Greene’s teaching career has been peripatetic. Returned from the Virginia

Polytechnic Institute in 1968, he became a tutor in the Department of Architecture of

the Leicester Polytechnic and remained there for two years, after which he was visiting

professor in Environmental Art at the Trent Polytechnic in Nottingham for another two

years, to begin a long association with the school of the Architectural Association in

1972, first as a tutor to various units then as a unit master in the Intermediate school

from 1975 (recommended reading in that year included not only Towards a new

architecture, but also Jack Burnham’s The structure of art, Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the art of

motorcycle maintenance, the works of Carlos Castenada and Rolling Stone magazine)

working together with a range of associates, among them Will Alsop, Chalk and

Osborne, and continuing thus until 1980 when he took up a position at the Polytechnic
of Central London (later the University of Westminster). But he remained as a tutor to

External Students at the Architectural Association, working with Herron and David

Gray. In 1983 he instead took on a Diploma school unit at the AA, working with Alsop

and Lyall, Gareth Jones and others and continuing with them in the following year when

he moved back to the Intermediate school. He joined up with Andrew Holmes and

Mark Fisher for the three years following (the reading list was now made up of Dickens’

Bleak House, Hardy’s The return of the native, Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca and L.P.

Hartley’s The go-between). All three moved into the Diploma school in 1988 and

continued teaching together for seven years. In 1995 technical instruction was taken

over by Casaverde Construction Inc. Then in 1996 Greene initiated a unit with Shin

Egashira which continued through to 2005. The association with the University of

Westminster continued throughout these last years, indeed continues still.

       Evidence culled from the AA Prospectus and Projects Review over successive years

as to the nature of Greene’s teaching is of course, treacherous (see also his comments

in AD 1969 3 p. 142 and 9 p. 506). One cannot be sure what was said or what might

have been the effect. And the associates with whom Greene taught must also have

created their own disturbances. Absolutely, variations are in evidence from year to year.

But those early Archigram aims to lay stress on individual choice and satisfaction and to

relate closely to shifting local conditions remain always in evidence, as does the influence

of the theorists of Conceptual art – the dicta of Burnham and Sol LeWitt pepper the


       Greene was clearly both cussed and charming, hard and soft. Timetables were

set and rigidly enforced, the processes to be followed were firmly laid down, but then
the field might open up and students be encouraged to pursue their dreams and fancies,

to improvise and take risks, and they were expertly assisted in their experimentation.

Again and again the importance of imagination was stressed, as was the hard-thinking

required to give it proper expression. “People,” Greene proudly noted, “say that he

walks on the edge of a conceptual abyss.”

       With Mark Fisher in tandem there was a wild indulgence in structural

elaboration, and this despite the fact that Fisher’s own constructions are always

brilliantly efficient and economical. Students moved then into the realm of sculpture. On

occasion there was a testy reaction to aspects of the move – “Don’t just respond to

fashion”, “Don’t just try to be different.” Yet in one year – the year of the reading of

Bleak House – students were advised that appearance might matter more than meaning.

       The sites explored were usually of the abandoned or derelict kind, whether in

cities, the countryside or the desert – Dungeness, Death Valley, etc. As ever, the

underlying intention was to erase or transform the structures of the traditional

environment, the realm of conventional architecture. Greene and Holmes seem to have

worked well together in exploring sites of memory and transforming them into

landscapes of the sublime – Paradise, the Realm of Love, etc. Their success may be

measured by the advent of Shin Egashira, who studied in their Intermediate school unit

in 1998 to 1999 and moved with them into the Diploma school the year following. He

emerged as a poet of architecture. His work was at once exhibited at the AA and has

continued since to be published in AA Files. But it marks a change. There is less evidence

by far in his constructions of a concern for the liberating effects of new technologies; his

constructions are made from finely rubbed pieces of wood and welded metals (Tinguely
rather than Judd); they carry clear overtones of dimly remembered memories and

experiences. He seeks always to conjour up something of the soul of a landscape or

place. Since 1993 he has taken students form the AA each summer to Japan, working

with them from the small decaying village of Kawanishi, about three hours drive form

Tokyo, each year making some gentle insertion there – a bus shelter, a park, a gathering

house – that might serve to sustain the local culture and to reactivate social life. Egashira

and Greene worked together in the Diploma school from 1997 to 2005. Since 2006

Greene has been fully involved with the Invisible University project of the University of

Westminster. This would seem to be a reversion to an earlier ideal; essentially exploring

the possibilities of sitting in a meadow with a computer. The Arcadian dream is intact

still. Yet there are hints that Greene is uncertain still whether architecture resides in the

idea or the material form. He is a great enthusiast of Yoshiharu Tsukamoto et al’s guides

to the buildings of Tokyo – pet architecture (infill buildings and shacks you respond to

like pets) and da-me architecture (no-good architecture, hybrid buildings that really

function in the life of the city). And he would seem to enjoy his dilemmas. He hates all

dogma. He will happily tell you that a student remarked at the end of his studies “You

didn’t teach me anything, but I learned a lot.”

RAE 2008, RA2 - H 30

GREENE, David +

Identifier:   8010831183658

Output 4      (Design)


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