Sir Peter Cook has been known for several decades as a leading figure in the architectural world, and in particular as the creator of drawings of avant-garde projects for buildings and concepts for cities. In recent years, the fact that he (with colleague Gavin Robotham), has built several major buildings has not stemmed the flow of his drawn work.
Many of his drawings are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Deutsches Architekturmuseum, Frankfurt, the Japan Architect Foundation, Tokyo; and the prestigious Fondation Nationale d’Art Moderne, Orleans.
The Gallery Espace exhibition featured drawings from the four last decades of the 20th century. Including the 1963 Montreal Tower : a work made before the existence of the ‘Archigram’ Group (which led to Sir Peter’s being awarded the Royal Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects).
There are more ‘tower’ drawings : the ‘Trickling Towers’; of 1978, the Brisbane Expo Towers of 1983, the ‘Tower of Studios’ – for Sachsenhausen in Frankfurt of 1984, the Dampstead (‘damp-Hampstead’) Towers of 1993, the Finchley Road ‘Tower of Wings’ 1993, the Lantern Tower for Oslo (1996 version) and the Sao Paulo Tower of 2007. Cook triedto absorb the character of a place visited or known for around a month – or several visits before he then evolves a tower project as a cultural/tectonic response to the place.
Then a series of more conceptual drawings under the overall title of ‘Skywaft City’, from 1984-84, which are drawn conjectures of architecture that is part skeletal, part vegetated, part flying-in-the-sky and overall concerned with metamorphosis. Celebrating the working-out of ideas about substance and form. Nine of these were exhibited.
With the four drawings related to Frankfurt (where at the time, Cook was Professor of Architecture at the Staedelschule – the art academy where Beckmann, Kirkeby, Immendorf and many other notables have taught) , we see the Westhavn : reinterpreted as a vertical and vegetated museum, and two ‘Villas’, all related to the idea of Frankfurt and Offenbach combining to form a ‘Real City’.
There are five drawings from the much-published and exhibited ‘Way out West – Berlin’, of 1988. A project that takes the quiet end of Bertlin’s heroic Kurfurstendamm boulevard and posits the idea of a series of changes that
are somehow spiritually influenced by the flora of the American ‘Wild West’ – which leads them to take on various vegetable-like formations.
A larger drawing from 1982, the “Arcadia Composite’ incorporates a number of smaller projects of the period, interwoven create a mysterious vision to that incorporates towers, hedges, trellises, domes, all folded into the landscape.
In a similarly comprehensive vein, ‘Island City’ of 2011 is an imaginary city of highly vegetated towers that occupy a series of islands and give rise to a whole new set of hybrid structures.
To introduce a more technical mood to the exhibition, Cook showed ‘Solar City’ of 1981 – a conceptual exercise that followed a spell of designing reral-life solar houses for a site in Germany.
Finally in the Cook collection there is a drawing made for the Subscriber edition of ‘Wallpaper’ magazine that took in 2008 an ironic view of the contemporary urban malaise : called ‘Jungle City’.
In the same exhibition there was a display of recently built projects by the ‘CRAB” office of Peter Cook and Gavin Robotham which will include university buildings for Vienna, Austria; Gold Coast, Australia and Bournemouth, England, where the influence of these drawings can often be seen.
DRAWINGS BY PETER COOK
EXHIBITED AT THE GALLERY ESPACE, DELHI
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