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What About Happiness on the Building Site?

Exhibition, Octagonal gallery, through 14 May

In 1973, following the strikes that beset the British construction industry during the early 1970s, Alistair McAlpine commissioned a design program for his construction company, Sir Robert McAlpine & Sons, that aimed to increase production efficiency and improve labour relations. Cedric Price’s proposal took the format of a two-volume report and a Portable Enclosures Programme (PEP) which, while presenting a critical view of building sites, also demonstrated his ambition to go beyond the immediate brief, employing architectural knowledge and thoughtful design to respond to pressing societal issues and human necessities.

Today, the report can clearly be seen as an anticipatory contribution to current discussions surrounding working environments, job satisfaction, and company ethics. While primarily a thorough investigation of how to increase work efficiency, the report is also a witty proposal to improve labour conditions—one which assures happiness and well-being, both mental and physical, for employees by prioritizing a low-stress, boredom-free building site.

Curated by Giovanna Borasi, CCA and André Tavares. Graphic Design by COCCU/Christian Lange, Munich.