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Michael Webb
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An invitation from the editors of the JAE to revisit a project executed over fifty years ago may reflect a nostalgia for an imagined golden age when architects, in truth just a handful, dedicated themselves to the wholesale rethinking of the built environment. For this happy few the prospect of servitude in an architect’s office endlessly reworking the client-funded classic one-off building did not exactly inspire; so, armed with a conviction that change needed to happen on the scale of the city, they coalesced into groups like Archigram to produce the clientless Plug-in City, Walking City, Instant City, Living City, Dream City and Rok Plug/Log Plug. All of them unrealizable except perhaps for Instant City, which was a sort of modernized traveling circus. And in 1969 Instant City actually happened when a cow pasture in Bethel, NY turned into a city pop. 400,000 for four days at the end of which the cows got their pasture back.

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