What the future looked like

Every architectural drawing calls to the future, but some projections surpass their particular contexts to reveal something wider—and highly timely. It’s easy to recognize the currents of anxiety or optimism that run through the moments that populate this issue, but we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking they are familiar; these are past futures that never really arrived. Rather, they lie in wait, giving us renewed routes toward understanding what preoccupies us today.

Article 9 of 13

1964: Fun Palace

A brochure by Cedric Price and Joan Littlewood

From our collection database:

[The] Fun Palace Project [was] an interactive and adaptable, educational and cultural complex to be located in London, England. The project was commissioned by Joan Littlewood, to be erected on disused public land slated for redevelopment and intended to be dismantled after 10 years. Conceptual and design development drawings were created for a typical Fun Palace that could be erected on any suitable site, and several sites were considered, some belonging to the Civic Trust. Presentation drawings were elaborated for a Fun Palace in the Lea Valley at Mill Meads and for a later modified Pilot Project in Camden Town. Publication drawings were also created for an article (Cedric Price, “Fun Palace Project,” Architectural Review [January 1965): 74–75). The Fun Palace Trust was created to oversee the project and the file contains material from related activities of the Trust which was active until the 1970s.

Cedric Price and Joan Littlewood. Fun Palace promotional brochure, 1964. DR1995:0188:525:001:023

We hold 275 drawings, 228 reprographic copies, 20 panels, 1 artefact (a model), 1 film reel, 1 roll, 1.13 l.m. textual records, and 0.04 l.m. photographic materials related to the Fun Palace.