Illustration by Drawing Architecture Studio. Commissioned by M+, Hong Kong

M+ today announced ‘Archigram Cities’, a series of online and offline events in November 2020 organised in collaboration with the Department of Architecture at the University of Hong Kong and Power Station of Art in Shanghai.

Archigram was a London-based group consisting of six architects: Warren Chalk (1927–1987), Peter Cook (born 1936), Dennis Crompton (born 1935), David Greene (born 1937), Ron Herron (1930–1994), and Michael Webb (born 1937). Active in the 1960s and 1970s, the group produced forward-looking propositions that helped reframe how we think about architecture and cities, and their ideas have had a far-reaching impact and resonance around the world for decades. The Archigram archive, which entered the M+ Collections in 2019, is a milestone in M+’s ongoing work to build a collection with global cultural significance. The core of the archive consists of approximately twenty thousand items, including more than three thousand drawings, prints, sketches, models, videos, ephemera, and other materials, representing some two hundred projects from the 1960s and 1970s. With new readings of Archigram’s practice and new contributions to the discourse of architecture through the archive, M+ addresses the historical importance of the group’s work and also considers its relevance for the immediate present and for potential futures.

The ‘Archigram Cities’ online and offline events, including talks, screenings, presentations, and a full-day symposium, embed the Archigram archive in its new home and introduce Archigram’s work to new audiences, in the form of encounters between members of the Archigram group and architects, scholars, students, and the wider public from Hong Kong, mainland China, and elsewhere. The programme is part of M+ Matters, a series of discussions that informs the museum’s curatorial approach, as well as M+ International, a platform for partnership with institutions around the world that addresses shared interests and challenges. In this collaborative framework, ‘Archigram Cities’ proposes to expand understandings of Archigram’s practice with transnational and cross-disciplinary perspectives.

‘M+ Matters: Archigram Cities Online Symposium’ on 4, 6, and 10 November reappraises Archigram through interpretations of the group’s work in relation to the histories and practice of architecture and urbanism across a wider set of geographies. Organised as a series of three sessions—with each session focusing on a distinct inquiry into Archigram’s work across the issues of inhabitations, figurations, and transmissions—the symposium includes presentations by eminent historians and architects Annette Fierro, Ariel Genadt, Evangelos Kotsioris, Lai Chee Kien, Li Han, Simon Sadler, Hadas Steiner, Tsukamoto Yoshiharu, Mark Wigley, Roger Wu, and Liam Young. In the spirit of Archigram’s countercultural approach, presentations are followed by a ‘Trash History/Theory’ video response by Archigram members before each panel discussion. The symposium also includes the online exhibition of drawings produced by students in response to an open call organised by the University of Hong Kong.

M+ Matters: Archigram Cities – It’s Archigram!’ on 13 November reintroduces Archigram’s practice through the online screening of Archigram 1967 (1967) and Archigram Opera (1972). Produced by the BBC, Archigram 1967 was the group’s first publicly broadcast film. Archigram Opera, produced by Dennis Crompton, is a multimedia projection of an audiovisual distillation of Archigram’s thinking, work, and references over more than ten years of activity. Both Archigram 1967 and Archigram Opera are presented online for the first time, Archigram Opera in a newly edited version. The screenings are followed by a discussion with Archigram members Peter Cook, Dennis Crompton, David Greene, and Michael Webb. They reflect on their engagement with film and mass media, as well as the affinities and dissonances they experienced in an international network of experimental architects in the 1960s and 1970s.

‘M+ International x Power Station of Art: Archigram Cities’, held in Shanghai on 21 November, focuses on the relevance of Archigram’s ideas for experimental architectural practices in China. This event introduces Archigram’s practice through live screenings of Archigram 1967 and the full version of Archigram Opera. The screenings are followed by a discussion with Archigram members and presentations by leading architects Li Han (Drawing Architecture Studio), Liu Jiakun (Jiakun Architects), Ma Yansong (MAD Architects), Yung Ho Chang (Atelier FCJZ), and Meng Yan (Urbanus), interspersed with conversations with Archigram members. The event takes place during Phase 02: An Ecosystem of Alliances, a session of the 13th Shanghai Biennale, Bodies of Water.

Suhanya Raffel, Museum Director, M+, underscores the significance of the programme for M+: ‘The acquisition of the Archigram archive reaffirms the position of M+ as a leading voice in the discussion on contemporary architecture and on global visual culture. “Archigram Cities” serves as an essential exercise to contextualise and reflect on the work of Archigram. Through this edition of our M+ Matters and M+ International initiatives, we encourage new dialogues between these globally influential figures and their counterparts in the region.’

Doryun Chong, Deputy Director, Curatorial, and Chief Curator, M+, addresses the potential of uncovering new architectural narratives through the events: ‘Through its dense layering of infrastructure, media, and commerce, Hong Kong can be read as an Archigram city, and the archive’s presence here offers the potential to trace new, situated lines of inquiry in architecture and visual culture. “Archigram Cities” re-examines Archigram through interpretations of the group’s work across the region and looks towards new horizons.’

Shirley Surya, Curator, Design and Architecture, M+, emphasises the influence of Archigram’s practice: ‘In the work of the Archigram group, architecture was about change, possibilities, and alternatives. The last five decades have shown the broad relevance of Archigram’s speculative projects. As one of the earliest to explore architecture’s engagement with transformations in urbanism, technology, and popular culture, and to address the rise of the user-consumer in a globally interconnected and hyper-mediated world, Archigram left an indelible mark on how architectural practice is understood in relation to society. These events affirm the lasting—and sometimes unexpected—influences of the group’s projects.’

Eric Schuldenfrei, Head, Department of Architecture, University of Hong Kong, highlights the objectives of the events: ‘Through discussing Archigram's work in a contemporary context, we are able to further expand on Archigram's impact within a wider set of geographies and protagonists, so as to present new interpretations of their work and situate their affinity for future urban possibilities’.

Gong Yan, Director of Power Station of Art, elaborates on the significance of the collaboration with M+: ‘These events bring Archigram’s methodology and vision of future cities into dialogue with influential architects in China whose work resonates with the group’s activities. The collaboration with M+ strengthens Power Station of Art’s “Architecture & City” exhibition and research initiative, which explores the intricate relations between the individual, space, and mechanisms of power.’

Programme details
‘M+ Matters: Archigram Cities Online Symposium’
Organised with the Department of Architecture, University of Hong Kong

Zoom 1: Inhabitations

Date: Wednesday 4 November 2020
Time: 10:00am–12:30pm (Hong Kong time)
Format: Online
Platform: Zoom
Link for registration: https://hku.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_nBBXpk8nQSOa4rrurnUzlQ
10:00am–10:10am
  • ‘Archigram Cities’ virtual gallery of drawings
  • Introduction by Suhanya Raffel (Museum Director, M+), Shirley Surya (Curator, Design and Architecture, M+), and Eric Schuldenfrei (Head, Department of Architecture, University of Hong Kong)
  • Introduction to the panel by Eunice Seng, Associate Professor, Department of Architecture, University of Hong Kong
10:10am–10:35am Presentation:
  • ‘Zoom Wave Hits Architecture’ – Simon Sadler, Chair of Design Department and Professor of Design, University of California, Davis
10:35am–11:00am Presentation:
  • ‘Housing Subjectivities: From the LCC to Uncle Wilf’ – Annette Fierro, Associate Professor of Architecture and Associate Chair, Stuart Weitzman School of Design, University of Pennsylvania
11:00am–11:25am Presentation:
  • ‘A Home is (Still) Not a House’ – Hadas Steiner, Associate Professor, Department of Architecture, School of Architecture and Planning, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York
11:25am–11:50am Presentation:
  • ‘Worlds Less Travelled’ – Liam Young, Founder of the Fiction and Entertainment MA programme at SCI-Arc Architecture School and Founder of Tomorrow’s Thoughts Today
11:50am–12:30pm Presentation:
  • Archigram members’ video response to papers
  • Discussion and Q&A, moderated by Eunice Seng and Joshua Bolchover, Associate Professor, Faculty of Architecture, University of Hong Kong 
Language: English
Fee: Free of charge

Zoom 2: Figurations

Date: Friday 6 November 2020
Time: 7:30pm–9:30pm (Hong Kong time)
Format: Online
Platfotm: Zoom
Link for registration: https://hku.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_nBBXpk8nQSOa4rrurnUzlQ
7:30pm–7:40pm
  • ‘Archigram Cities’ virtual gallery of drawings
  • Introduction to the panel by Roberto Requejo, Lecturer, Department of Architecture, University of Hong Kong
7:40pm–8:00pm Presentation:
  • ‘-GRAM’ – Li Han, Co-founder, Drawing Architecture Studio, Beijing
8:00pm–8:25pm Presentation:
  • ‘Take the Weather with You: The Malaysian Exhibit at the Commonwealth Institute’ – Lai Chee Kien, Adjunct Associate Professor, Architecture and Sustainable Design, Singapore University of Technology and Design 
8:25pm–8:50pm Presentation:
  • ‘Learning from Archigram’ – Tsukamoto Yoshiharu, Co-founder, Atelier Bow-Wow, Tokyo
8:50pm–9:30pm
  • Archigram members’ video response to papers
  • Discussion and Q&A, moderated by Roberto Requejo and Ying Zhou, Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture, University of Hong Kong 
Language: English
Fee: Free of charge

 Zoom 3: Transmissions

Date: Tuesday 10 November 2020
Time: 7:30pm–9:45pm (Hong Kong time)
Format: Online
Platform: Zoom
Link for registration: https://hku.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_nBBXpk8nQSOa4rrurnUzlQ
7:30pm–7:40pm
  • ‘Archigram Cities’ virtual gallery of drawings
  • Introduction to the panel by Shirley Surya
7:40pm–7:55pm Presentation:
  • ‘Connecting the Archigram Spirit with Hong Kong’ – Roger Wu, Chief Curator, 2019 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture, Hong Kong
7:55pm–8:20pm Presentation:
  • ‘Dismantling Architecture: Archigram and Isozaki in Osaka 1970’ – Ariel Genadt, Lecturer, Graduate History and Theory, Stuart Weitzman School of Design, University of Pennsylvania 
8:20pm–8:45pm Presentation:
  • ‘Plug-In Communism: Archigram’s Influence on Soviet Architectural Counterculture’ – Evangelos Kotsioris, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Architecture and Design, Museum of Modern Art, New York
8:45pm–9:10pm Presentation:
  • ‘Retransmitting Archigram’ – Mark Wigley, Professor and Dean Emeritus of Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, New York
9:10pm–9:45pm
  • Archigram members’ video response to papers
  • Discussion and Q&A, moderated by Shirley Surya and Zhu Tao, Associate Professor, Department of Architecture, University of Hong Kong
Language: English
Fee: Free of charge

‘M+ Matters: Archigram Cities – It’s Archigram!’
Organised with the Department of Architecture, University of Hong Kong

Date: Friday 13 November 2020
Time: 7:30pm–9:30pm (Hong Kong time)
Format: Online
Platfotm: Zoom
Link for registration: https://hku.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_nBBXpk8nQSOa4rrurnUzlQ
7:30pm–7:40pm Introduction by Eric Schuldenfrei, Doryun Chong (Deputy Director, Curatorial, and Chief Curator, M+), and Shirley Surya
7:40pm-8:30pm  Online screening of Archigram films:
  • Archigram 1967 (1967)
  • Newly edited version of Archigram Opera (1972) 
8:30pm–9:30pm Reflection on films and Archigram’s practice with Archigram members Peter Cook, Dennis Crompton, David Greene, and Michael Webb, moderated by Aric Chen, Professor of Practice, College of Design & Innovation, Tongji University, and Eunice Seng
Language: English
Fee: Free of charge

‘M+ Matters: Archigram Cities Online Symposium’ is co-organised by Shirley Surya (Curator, Design and Architecture, M+), Aric Chen (Professor of Practice, College of Design & Innovation, Tongji University), and Eric Schuldenfrei (Head, Department of Architecture, University of Hong Kong), Eunice Seng (Associate Professor, Department of Architecture, University of Hong Kong), and Roberto Requejo (Lecturer, Department of Architecture, University of Hong Kong), with Noel Cheung (Curatorial Assistant, Design and Architecture, M+). The programme is part of M+ Matters, an ongoing series of discussions that inform the museum’s curatorial approach.

‘M+ International x Power Station of Art: Archigram Cities’
Organised in partnership with Power Station of Art, Shanghai

Date: Saturday 21 November 2020
Time: 4:00pm–8:30pm (Shanghai time)
Format: Online and offline
Physical event venue: Power Station of Art, Shanghai (Simultaneous interpretation will be provided to on-site attendees. The event will also be live-streamed.)
Online live streaming platform:

Bilibili
Putonghua channel and English channel (with simultaneous interpretation in English)

4:00pm–4:10pm Introduction by Gong Yan, (Director, Power Station of Art), Ikko Yokoyama (Lead Curator, Design and Architecture, M+), and Shirley Surya
4:10pm–5:15pm Live screening of Archigram films:
  • Archigram 1967 (1967)
  • Archigram Opera (1972)
5:15pm–5:45pm Reflection on films and Archigram’s practice with Archigram members Peter Cook, Dennis Crompton, David Greene, and Michael Webb (virtually present), moderated by Aric Chen and Shirley Surya
5:45pm–8:15pm Reflection on practice in relation to Archigram's methodology, followed by a dialogue with Archigram (virtually present), Li Han (Co-founder, Drawing Architecture Studio), Yung Ho Chang (Founder, Atelier FCJZ), Liu Jiakun (Founder and Lead Architect, Jiakun Architects), Meng Yan (Co-founder, Urbanus), and Ma Yansong (Founder and Principal Partner, MAD Architects), moderated by Aric Chen and Shirley Surya
8:15pm–8:30pm Q&A with public
Language: In English and Mandarin, with simultaneous interpretation in both languages on-site
Fee: Free of charge

‘M+ International x Power Station of Art: Archigram Cities’ is co-organised by Shirley Surya (Curator, Design and Architecture, M+), Aric Chen (Professor of Practice, College of Design & Innovation, Tongji University), and Zhang Lili (Head, Learning Department, Power Station of Art), with Jennifer Wong (Assistant Curator, Design and Architecture, M+) and Xia Chengyue (Learning Department Project Planner, Power Station of Art). M+ International was launched in May 2019 as an initiative to create partnerships and collaborations, and to expand connections with regions beyond Hong Kong. URSIDE in Shanghai is the hotel sponsor for ‘M+ International x Power Station of Art: Archigram Cities’.

M+ is making digital content from ‘Archigram Cities’ accessible online for international audiences on websiteM+ Stories, and other social media channels. This includes a trailer, blog posts, and posters by Drawing Architecture Studio. For more information about the events, please visit our website.

Remarks

Website
https://www.mplus.org.hk/archigramcities

Social media
Join the conversation on Twitter (@mplusmuseum), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/mplusmuseum, https://www.facebook.com/archhku), Instagram (@mplusmuseum, @hkuarchitecture, @powerstationofart @archigramcitiesdrawings), and WeChat (wk.org.hk/wechat, hkuarchitecture, yancongpsa)

About M+
M+ is a museum dedicated to collecting, exhibiting, and interpreting visual art, design and architecture, moving image, and Hong Kong visual culture of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District, we are building one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary visual culture in the world, with a bold ambition to establish ourselves as one of the world’s leading cultural institutions. Our aim is to create a new kind of museum that reflects our unique time and place, a museum that builds on Hong Kong’s historic balance of the local and the international to define a distinctive and innovative voice for Asia’s twenty-first century.

About the West Kowloon Cultural District
The West Kowloon Cultural District is one of the largest and most ambitious cultural projects in the world. Its vision is to create a vibrant new cultural quarter for Hong Kong on forty hectares of reclaimed land located alongside Victoria Harbour. With a varied mix of theatres, performance spaces, and museums, the West Kowloon Cultural District will produce and host world-class exhibitions, performances, and cultural events, providing twenty-three hectares of public open space, including a two-kilometre waterfront promenade.

About the Department of Architecture, University of Hong Kong
Founded in 1950, the Department of Architecture at the University of Hong Kong is one of the preeminent institutions for architectural education in Asia and around the world. The department features an internationally recognised design curriculum in architecture, urbanism, and landscape that prepares students for the environmental, cultural, and social challenges of contemporary architectural practice. The department offers an accredited Bachelor’s degree programme of Architectural Studies and an accredited Master’s degree programme of Architecture. It also features Postgraduate Research MPhil and PhD degree programmes.

About Power Station of Art
Established on 1 October 2012, Power Station of Art is the first state-run museum dedicated to contemporary art in mainland China. It is also home to the Shanghai Biennale. As Shanghai’s generator for its new urban culture, PSA regards non-stop innovation and progress as the key to its long-term vitality. The museum has been striving to provide an open platform for the public to learn and appreciate contemporary art, break the barrier between life and art, and promote cooperation and knowledge generation between different schools of art and culture.