COOK Peter, ARCHIGRAM Instant City (1970)

“A project for a nomadic city, Instant City is the result of an approach to a philosophical quandary concerning architecture which Archigram had begun to experiment with in Plug-in-City (1964). With their concept, architecture disappears, giving way to the image, the event and audiovisual presentations, to gadgets and other environmental simulators. With Instant City, the architects developed the idea of a “traveling metropolis,” a package that temporarily infiltrates a community. This city superimposes, for a time, new spaces for communication onto an existing city. This audiovisual environment (of words and images projected onto suspended screens), associated with mobile objects (airships and hot air balloons with tents, pods and mobile homes hanging from them,) and with technological objects (gantry cranes, refineries and robots) creates a city that consumes information, one intended for a population in movement. The first step towards network of information, education, leisure and facilities, Instant City is brought to the towns on the edge of a metropolis by a fleet of all-terrain vehicles and helicopters. In this way, the local community is integrated into the metropolitan community. This idea of infiltration is intended as a complementary rather than foreign addition to the communities visited. The vehicles are then transformed into dirigibles. Instant City is precisely what its name implies: when it arrives on a site, it creates an event and then disappears, thereby signifying that architecture does not have to be a construction and can be simply an event, an action in the present. Instant City is also one of the first examples of network architecture, 25 years before the birth of the Internet: a network, flow, and vector of information, bringing together dispersed urban fragments. It is a scenario, which, once set in motion, is will be rewritten by all the inhabitants who will bring it to life. Thus, Instant City has no fixed form, no prior constraints. It is an example of something impossible to represent, a city that has no existence as such and which is only an incident in time and space. In the dialectic between permanent and transitory, mobile and ephemeral, Instant City embodies the utopian vision of architecture freed from its foundations, of a flying and aerial city, which transforms architecture into a situation, into a reactive environment. Architecture appears both as a consumer object and as the creation of an artificial environment.”