Early on in this book there is a photograph of the British architect Peter Cook's living-room 'circa 1970'. Cook is now Sir Peter, co-designer of the rather bland main stadium for the 2012 London Olympics. But he was a young adventurer back then, a founder of the archetypal 1960s and 1970s avant-garde architects' collective Archigram, which came up with never built but influential schemes for futuristic 'walking' buildings and 'plug-in' cities. His 1970 living-room is stacked with then state-of-the-art silvery gadgets: a TV, a turntable, a film projector, hi-fi amplifiers and a reel-to-reel tape recorder. Otherwise, the room is sparsely arranged, the only furniture a single table, stool and chair, each spindly and metallic; the only decoration some records and magazines propped up against the walls with their covers carefully showing. 'First Flag on the Moon', one magazine announces; 'Stones in the Park' another says. In 2010, this space-age bachelor pad set-up looks frail and old-fashioned - a museum piece, rather than a scene from recent cultural history. Parts of the 1970s are beginning to seem as remote as the 1950s.
LRB 19 August 2010 | PDF Download