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The HWS Update

An Architect under Re-Construction

Mathews publishes book on architect Cedric Price

“There are very few books on Cedric Price and they tend to be thin and rather particular. If you read them, you are none the wiser about the man or the context in which he worked. This book puts that right, renowned architect Will Alsop writes in the Royal Institute of British Architects Journal about Associate Professor of Art Stanley Mathews’ new book “From Agit-Prop to Free Space.

In his book, Mathews places this visionary 20th century architect into the context of both his life and post-WWII England. “Price was a revolutionary in ways that are unfamiliar to most. This book shows exactly that. He wasn’t interested in building for building’s sake or in his buildings being permanent; he was designing buildings that would enhance the way of life for a finite time in England’s history, explains Mathews.

Architecture critic Kester Rattenbury says that Mathews’ new release “seems at times like a thrilling historical movie. With its engaging style, this text focuses in on two of Price’s lesser known architectural designs: the Fun Palace and the Pottery Thinkbelt.

“Price’s ideas are sometimes written off as outlandish, Mathews points out, “but the Fun Palace, the Potteries Thinkbelt and all Price buildings are build-able and at the time would have been very functional. The Fun Palace was “an indeterminate building meant to be changed and reformed by users according to their needs of various spaces. The Potteries Thinkbelt was a “mobile university meant to educate the English in applied science and technology at a time when they could’ve desperately used it, Mathews explains.

Nevertheless, few of Price’s blueprints reached the construction stage. Yet the influence of his “architecture of indeterminacy impacted more than a generation or architects. “For example, if you look at the Centre Pampidou in Paris, the influence of Price is abundantly clear.

Mathews began his blueprints for this book in the late 1990s. “I wanted to get the whole story, and I wanted to get it right, Mathews says, remembering those initial days. Having known Price while he was living, Mathews was able to meet with the architect himself, his family, colleagues and the people at the Cedric Price Archive. “I really had unprecedented access to photographs, letters, drawings: many of which were being seen for the first time.

After such a highly praised book release in the UK, what’s the next step for Mathews and his project on Price? “Well, the publisher wants a volume two, says Mathews.