We Were Not Hippies...

architects Peter Cook, Dennis Crompton, Mike Webb - Archigram
interviewed by Blaž Križnik, Hugo Hardy, Petar Zaklanović


Interviewed in Rotterdam, 25 January 2002


ORIS: It’s not just Archigram that we recall when thinking about technology and English culture. There are many more examples. Going back maybe to the Crystal Palace or the Firth Bridge. Mr. Q for instance, the ingenious inventor providing James Bond with all those amazing cutting-edge gadgets, is also very English. Is your love for technology culturally conditioned?


Mike Webb: Oh, yeah.


Peter Cook: I think it is. There is a similarity that I noticed between Japan and England. Both countries like daftness, silliness and jokes and silly walks from Monty Python. I think both places are offshore islands separated from a large continental culture. Also they both have low thresholds of boredom. There is an element of enjoying making something work that shouldn’t really work. In my generation there was always somebody with his feet sticking out from underneath a car that should have been on the scrap heap. I think there is an interesting difference between the person who makes Meccano sets completely according to the instructions and people who use sixteen Meccano parts and then suddenly they make something out of a coat hanger and sort of weld it onto the side. And it’s very interesting in more recent times to see how that kind of tradition can be imposed upon non-English people. You get some unsuspecting student from Germany or Vietnam, or wherever they might come from, and they get infected with this sort of English “let’s make a silly thing that might work.” I am constantly going on ’crits’ at the Bartlett when someone says “because it’s a ’crits-day’ it doesn’t seem to be working. But it was definitely working last Thursday.” Or “I think I might get it working by Monday, but I can’t get that piece...” This tradition is very interesting when you see it transmuted.