Cedric Price.Generator: "THE SYMBOL - any size - only one shape". Between 1976 and 1979. Colour polaroid photographs adhered to paper, with porous point pen, coloured pencil and stamp pad ink inscriptions. Cedric Price fonds, CCA Collection. 29.8 x 20.8 cm. DR1995:0280:651:005:002

1945–1975: British Culture for Architecture is the first of three themes addressed by the CCA’s new Multidisciplinary Research Program, launched in collaboration with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The 18-month project centres on the social, economic and technological shifts that took place in Britain in the period 1945–1975 and, specifically, how these transformations and reform efforts were registered through culture.

The inquiry is suggested in part by the CCA’s extensive holdings of work by the British architect Cedric Price, whose provocative proposals during those years represent one example of how architecture might envision, and even prompt, a transformed society. The theme recognizes that the optimism and fascination with social responsibility that nourished the work of British architects after wartime devastation are valuable examples for the shaping of society today. The social-democratic stamp of those years accompanied the belief that social order and human behaviour should encompass culture as well as leisure and education, issues that are emerging as priorities in contemporary society and the planning of the built environment.

Through this research program and the discussions it cultivates, the CCA hopes to establish a deeper base for contextualizing Price’s outputs. Its wider agenda is to enact a new method of multidisciplinary historiography that explores the relationship between societal change and cultural production, a historiography through which architecture’s contributions to culture and interactions with other disciplines may be more meaningfully understood.

Following an open call for participation, the CCA convened a two-day working seminar in May 2014 where international scholars presented research hypotheses related to the configuration and reading of British culture in the decades after World War II. A peer-review committee selected five seminar participants as Mellon Researchers, who will advance collective research on the topic through the end of 2015. The team will meet with CCA directors and staff in Montreal for a series of closed workshops beginning in September 2014. Invited experts, including scholars from other disciplines, will join these sessions in order to inform and enlarge the breadth of the research. The CCA website will feature the team’s work in progress, and a publication is among the possible final outputs of this endeavor.

2014–2015 Mellon Researchers

Nick Beech
Oxford Brookes University

Murray Fraser
University College London

Timothy Ivison
The London Consortium

Simon Sadler
University of California, Davis

Ben Sweeting
University of Brighton

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Cedric Price