Visual overload: The Archigram Archival Project

Product design the Archigram way.

Not many of the designs from the inimitable architecture group Archigram have ever been built. It should of course be noted that not many of their designs are buildable, even with the technology available now, 40 years after their conception. That is not to say, however, that Archigram has not met with success. The visionary collaboration of its 6 founders and sole members have had a lasting influence on design today, from architecture and city planning to product and graphic design.

Up until now their drawings, plans, collages and photographs have been almost impossible to find, but a grant from the British Humanities Research Council has allowed EXP, an architectural research group at the University of Westminster, to make the Archigram Archives available as a free, digital resource for academic and general browsing purposes. Nearly 10,000 items from over 200 projects have been compiled in a searchable database, including projects from the members of the group before they met as well as their work together, like Archigram, the experimental architecture magazine that started it all.

Most of their projects were never completed because they were never conceived that way to begin with. Conceptual projects, like instant, plug-in cities and drive in homes are examples of the fantasy projects they were known for. They were more concerned with designing spaces that changed they way people lived and interacted with each other than in actually building them. Perhaps that was their downfall. Certainly, their ideas were far from being practical, but what really inspiring idea is?

One of Archigram’s many conceptual proposals.