Archigram is now registered as business name. pages 215x150mm landscape, stapled along left hand edge. 22 single-sided pages of which 2 fold out to 353x150mm (A Walking City, Ron Herron and An Endpiece, Andrew Anderson). Pages collaged and typed with Letraset titles. Printers were Grants. 1250 copies printed. Price 2 shillings (10p)
ARCHIGRAM 5, 1964
Interview with Dennis Crompton
Having done the Living City Exhibition, the Living Arts catalogue for the exhibition is very much a city manifesto that we produced. We then produced an issue of Archigram with lots and lots of pages that were about the city, about Metropolis.
So this was again a themed issue. Very small writing. The editorial’s where it should be, at the beginning. But just looking at city phenomena, you know, people like Ebenezer Howard, like Sant’Elia, like just a photograph of Piccadilly Circus. And this, as I say, this cover was designed by Rae and Ben Fether. Rae and Ben had worked with us on the Living City Exhibition as well. They’re product designers, and graphic designers. So this, mostly, goes through sort-of city phenomenon. Some of it real cities, some of it proposed cities.
See, that’s a funny thing. I hadn’t noticed, but do you remember Jack Robinson? Wasn’t he the centre mid-term Manhattan planning guy? And he’s still around; he’s a partner in a big urban planning practice in New York, I think. I’ve met him in the last few years. That may not be the same Jack Robinson, but it would be interesting to know...and Kenzo Tange, we do know...
But again, now, forty-odd years later, the conversation about mega-structures is recurring and the designers quoted are a very short list, whereas if you look through this, it’s full of people: old Henry Savage doing a mega-structure; Ralph Erskine; a bit of P. Cook at Euston; I don’t know who these guys are, some students in Rome; Yona Friedman again.
But I think its academically interesting, because it has an analytical thing to it. This is exuberant, whereas this is sort-of saying, ‘Ok, we’re talking about this type of urban form. Here are lots of people that have been talking about it and here’s the sort of work they’ve been doing’. OK, the illustrations are not incredibly well printed and it’s sort-of soggy paper and cheap blue ink and very cheap plates.
It’s different paper isn’t it, it looks thinner?
Oh, they’re all on different paper. Yeah, I mean, basically, it’s the same thing that happens now: you go to a printer and they have a stock paper, and you ask for a quote for printing and they say ‘Well, you know, dah de dah de dah’ and its twelve hundred pounds and you say ‘Well, I’d like it to go onto slightly different paper’ and they say ‘Well, yes, that’s about two and a half thousand’, you know? Because they normally have this very cheap paper.
And in a way, you can trace the development of office technology through the papers, because that [Archigram 3] – the yellow paper – is that soggy paper that went through duplicators because the ink didn’t dry fast enough, so they all would have stuck together on a paper with any sort of surface to print on, but here, the ink is dry by the time it hits the pile. Whereas by this time [Archigram 5], paper technology has moved on; there’s a surface, it’s not exactly a coated surface but it’s a hard pressed surface, and the ink, the litho inks being used have got better carriers in them that evaporate faster. And you see, it’s interesting, but it’s just an aside, we weren’t thinking about it at the time it, you just went into the printer and said, ‘How cheaply can you do this?’
Yes: ‘What have you got the end of?’
Yes, exactly. That comes into Archigram 7, I think, end of line.
And how many issues were you doing?
Oh, I can’t remember. It was getting up into the thousands, not big thousands but you know, a thousand, twelve hundred. There is actually – if you look at this issue, you’ll find the invoice from Grants the printers where we printed twelve hundred copies of it.
One thousand two hundred and fifty.
Yeah, right, so there you are. Now somewhere in a box there may be invoices for all the other issues, I don’t know. But you never know, we might find them.
So this is a case in point, where I did the layout for the page with ‘Computer City’ on it, and I think Mike by this time – oh no, he was still in London, he hadn’t gone to the States – but I think Peter laid out this page rather than Mike [p. 15]. People like Martin Pawley. Somewhere amongst the ephemera that you’ve got there are other drawings for this project from Martin.
A thing again, a technical note: in the early 1960’s there was a firm called Hunter Penrose in Clerkenwell, who imported some stuff called Zippertone from America This was pre-printed patterned sheets that had a white adhesive on the back and we used to use that. They had all sorts, all these dot patterns, and rectangular patterns and lots of things, you’ll see them appearing, starting to appear on the drawings round about 1962-63, and it was because of this American import of Zippertone. Oh yes, and they were doing rub-down letters.
This is pre-Letraset?
No, Letraset already existed. Letraset I used when I was a student, so Letraset was around at least 10 years before this. But at that time, Letraset was a wet transfer thing and you had, like, you know the transfers that kids do? It’s on the backing paper and you put it into a saucer and the adhesive melts and then you’ve got to pick up the image and put in onto your arm? It was like that. I mean, it was a real pain to use. We used that when I was at university. But then, rub down letters came from the States, that’s why I started talking about that, it’s because of it being used here. It wasn’t Letraset, it was some other company. I’ve probably still got sheets of it. Yes, but, you know, these letter forms that any respectable, particularly Swiss, typographer would never dream of using, suddenly started coming in from the States. These lads picked them up and they get used throughout here.
So then Warren did a couple of pages on Underwater Hardware, Underwater Cities. Mostly these are single pages, without any printing on the back, as you can see, so when there was something that was too wide for a single page it would be printed like that, so that you’ve got a spread which is completely blank and it would carry on across.
This is our friend Andrew Anderson again. A little advert for Arcade; do you remember Arcade magazine? Is it still around?
I don’t think so.
No, I don’t either. That was at the Royal College of Art; and then some exhibition of Archigram somewhere or other; another advert for Building Design Partnership.
No two issues of Archigram are the same format; when we start talking about doing facsimile productions, nowadays most publishers leave the room!