Icon 161: Architects vs housing – out now 03.10.16

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In our latest issue, Edwin Heathcote asks whether even the best architects have become too ineffective to solve the UK’s housing crisis. We also recall how 1960s counterculture sparked a graphic design revolution

The story of architecture and housing is well-rehearsed and dispiriting. Post-war architects, intoxicated with Corb-inspired visions of the perfect society, applied these ideas to the real world, only to come a cropper on that same reality. Its wings clipped, the profession lost the plot and withdrew from the public discourse. This isn’t good enough, says Edwin Heathcote, who pulls no punches in his detailed excoriation of the current impasse in this month’s cover story. Cows, some sacred, others not so much, are pitilessly slaughtered. Where are today’s utopian thinkers? Why, amid the worst housing crisis in living memory, are architects content to tinker at the edges?

Around the same time as architecture’s modernist experiment was beginning to flounder, a new generation of visual artists and designers started looking to the past. Inspired by figures such as Aubrey Beardsley, the counter-cultural scene, led by Hapshash and the Coloured Coat in London (pictured) and Wes Wilson in San Francisco, provided psychedelia with a graphic identity. Their posters and album covers were a riot of colour and fantastical references, and amounted to a wholesale rejection of modernism, as our writer Ian Lowey suggests. You can judge for yourself: much of the original artwork is now on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in an exhilarating, nostalgia-fuelled retrospective. The psychedelic era may have proved short-lived, but architecture could sorely do with some of its radical spirit if the current, unhappy status quo in housing is to be ended.



James McLachlan



quotes story

Why, amid the worst housing crisis in living memory, are architects content to tinker at the edges?

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Glass A Turkish corporate giant goes niche with Nude

Luggage Cafuné’s handbags get marble madness, while HP’s (almost tasteful) laptop bag charges on the go

Tech Selective earbuds by Doppler Labs and Logitech’s newest minimalist keyboard

Home Pared-back vanity mirrors by Richard Yasmine, Nefelia’s playful Drama collection, Darkroom’s tiles for Bert & May and Cecilie Manz’s Muuto shelves

Travel Tracking down Cambodia’s modernist relics in Phnom Penh

Hotel 21c Oklahoma: Art, theatre and events concept reaches another of America’s up-and coming cities

Destination Joseph Bazalgette’s Crossness Pumping Station restored to its polychromic glory



Housing dreams Have even the best architects become too ineffective to solve the UK’s housing crisis?

Public Christ & Gantenbein craft a concrete extension to Zurich’s Landesmuseum

Residential One of New York’s oldest cast-iron buildings gets a radical internal makeover by WORKac

Transport Koen van Velsen takes Dutch detailing to new heights in Breda’s brick train station

Event Architects, engineers and manufacturers head to the Surface & Materials show in Birmingham

Icon Bernard Rudofsky’s legendary exhibition exalted vernacular virtues

Q&A Piero Lissoni on being an all-encompassing designer and making a proper pasta



Visions of ecstasy How 1960s counterculture sparked a graphic design revolution

Lighting Light becomes art at the Carpenters Workshop Gallery

Kitchen Färg & Blanche’s experimental new crockery collection for Petite Friture

Furniture The Trellick Collection from Tom Dixon takes cues from brutalism and scrap materials

Icon VHS ceases production just before it reaches the
40-year mark

Q&A Sebastian Bergne talks about wit in design and how the product trumps the process

Review The World of Malls

Rethink OMA’s latest EU exhibition, post-Brexit

Obsession The slow death of the airline meal


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