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“Screw you; it can be built.” Meet British architect Sir Peter Cook who talks about the possible benefits of drawing by hand and explains why he disagrees with critics calling his architectural ideas utopian.
“By the critics and the regular people saying it’s utopian, you put it into a pigeonhole that says: ‘Oh, those sorts of architects are utopian, but we are normal architects.’ So, the delight I get out of doing buildings is to say: Screw you, it can be built.”
Peter Cook (b. 1936) grew up in the city of Lester in the latter part of the second world war. The town had a lot of cultural activities, and he accompanied his mother, a frustrated artist, to galleries, operas, and symphony concerts from a very young age. Around the age of eleven, he started reading books about architecture and was already fascinated by the modern by then. When he began studying architecture at art school, he was both intrigued and challenged by the practice of drawing.
“Because I was not a natural drawer, I realised that I was determined to communicate ideas. I was arrogant enough to say: ‘I’m sorry, I’m not just going to sit at the back of the process and specify door handles; I’m going to be a creative architect.’ And so, you just bloody well had to do it like an artisan.”
As a founding member of the avant-garde neo-futuristic group Archigram in the early 1960s, Cook helped project radically new architecture possibilities. He has been a pivotal figure in the global architectural world for over half a century. One of the most significant works from his time with Archigram, The Plug-In City, still holds the potential to invoke debates on technology and society to this day. His more recent works, including the Kunsthaus in Graz, Austria, has brought his ideas to a broader audience.
Marc-Christoph Wagner interviewed Peter Cook at his studio in London in January 2022, just before the opening of Peter Cook’s exhibition City Landscapes at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark.
Camera: Kyle Stevenson
Edited by Jarl Therkelsen Kaldan
Produced by Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2021
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