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WHAT LEGACY HAS ARCHIGRAM REALLY LEFT US?

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LETTERS

Good on you, Colin Davis for querying, however tentatively, the hardback deification of Archigram (AJ 22.09.05). I find the phenomenon extraordinary but it is 'taught' in history courses as a key subject for study and seems almost as popular a student subject as the Situationists. (A current list on Amazon. com introduces Sadler's book on the latter as: 'Theories which have more or less replaced Marxism as the basis for progressive architecture.' A reasonably typical student take today. I sometimes ask students after a lecture on Situationism how extensive a movement they imagined it to be. And the answer - from those who've not yet carefully read their Sadler - is often a thousand times the true one. ) I don't mean to spoil the fun of the '60s but really! I'd blame retro-chic in the schools (Jonathan Hill's enjoyable lecture on Yves Klein last year offered our students another entrée to that world), if the venerable RIBA hadn't actually given Archigram the Royal Gold Medal. There are lovely drawings, one-line ideas which stick in the memory, and at least three rare, absolutely first-rate teachers. But is it really such valuable, important, gold-standard architecture without architecture? I'd say that nice title fitted Delirious New York, long before Koolhaas started building. But Archigram?

John McKean, via email

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