Published  02/09/2002

Royal gold medal for architecture for Archigram

Britain’s leading architectural accolade, awarded each year by the Queen, goes this year to the Archigram Group. A most famous image from Archigram Walking City was the work of the late Ron Herron. A superb retrospective exhibition of the group’s oeuvre was shown at the Kunsthalle, Vienna, in 1994.

This exhibition is still available, and was never shown in Britain. It should be revived now for a new generation to understand the critical importance of the group through the 1960s and 1970s. Dennis Crompton, another member, still teaches at the Architectural Association, the alma mater of the group. Perhaps the most famous of the Group in practice today has been Professor Peter Cook, Chair of the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London. The Award shows that credit sometimes does go to the sources of key ideas, when so often inspiration or introduction is forgotten in the razzmatazz. Richard Rogers, Renzo Piano, and latterly Mark Fisher and Will Alsop all acknowledge a debt. Crompton and Alsop (then still a student) were finalists in the Pompidou Centre (1971—77) competition won by Rogers and Piano. But let us not forget Cedric Price, also a key teacher and inspiration at the Architectural Association when they were all students. Alsop, for one, freely acknowledges their original mentor, and would see himself in that succession.

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