In the s, Cedric Price , Peter Cook , and the Archigram group also found this to be an absorbing arena of thought. The ' postmodern ' was for him uneasy, and he evolved into the conscience of postwar British architecture. He broke with utopian and technical formalism. Scenes in America Deserta talks of open spaces and his anticipation of a 'modern' future.
In A Concrete Atlantis: U. Industrial Building and European Modern Architecture, — Banham demonstrates the influence of American grain elevators and "Daylight" factories on the Bauhaus and other modernist projects in Europe. He had been appointed the Sheldon H. He was featured in the short documentary Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles ; in his book on Los Angeles, Banham said that he learned to drive so he could read the city in the original. In , Nigel Whiteley published a critical biography of Banham, Reyner Banham: Historian of the Immediate Future ,  in which he gives an in-depth overview of Banham's work and ideas.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Reyner Banham. Norwich , England. London , England. The New York Times. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Coopted by the architectural counterculture in the late s, pneumatics became the go-to scapegoat for avoiding the formal, material, and ideological tropes of an overly stylized modern architecture. Through their anti-monumentality and perceived impermanence, architectural inflatables also avoided the aestheticized iconography of a modernism tarnished by failed utopias.
The constantly shifting form and space of these new-dimensional spaces—facilitated by working with lightweight materials like air and plastic—dislodged architecture from social norms, introducing novel opportunities for mobility and performance. While pneumatics became the default strategy for architects striving to push the boundaries of form and space, on the low-tech and do-it-yourself DIY end of the spectrum, they also dismantled the notion of architectural expertise.
In addition, a giant cable net was designed to counteract uplift with tie-downs. For Ant Farm, the difficulties posed by desert conditions led to an inflatable impossibility: attempts to respond to the extreme temperatures that ranged from degrees to freezing, coupled with unusually high winds, ultimately failed.
That is, in addition to the inability of their pneumatic pillow to meet expectations of human comfort, it literally collapsed. As a result, the catalog supplement was assembled in an airstream trailer Brand shared with his wife, Lois, and converted Brand from a pneumatic advocate to skeptic if not a denouncing critic virtually overnight. Even though Banham appreciated the DIY, expendable, and barely-there ethos of pneumatic experimentation in the s, most of these works served merely as agitprop detours indexing countercultural resistance to the architectural establishment and its poorly performing modernist buildings.
In most cases, a pneumatic approaching the scale of an actual building was destined to raise immediate concern about its viability as a structure that could be safely occupied.
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Victor A. Lundy, Air-supported exhibition building for the U. Atomic Energy Commission , timelapse photographs of deflation, Courtesy of Victor A. As a rather early model showcasing such structures, this project exposes an alternative historiography of pneumatic architecture. That is, the AEC Pavilion challenges two common misconceptions: 1 inflatables were merely a flash-in-the pan, yet non-serious experiment carried by the s counterculture; and 2 pneumatics serve a range of practical and seasonal building uses e. Truman administration, and further developed under the presidency of Dwight D.
Eisenhower before it was closed down in That capability, already proved, is here—now—today.
Conceived in collaboration with Birdair, the pavilion was comprised of two vinyl-coated nylon skins, separated by a four-foot air space. The pavilion was also designed with safety in mind: the air space between the inner and outer skins was compartmentalized into eight discrete chambers. Atomic Energy Commission , Atomic Energy Commission , Floor Plan, The AEC Pavilion was economical, both in terms of its material usage and labor.
The AEC Pavilion was also efficient in terms of construction time. The project typically took three to four days to erect. Once the fabric was attached to the two rigid end frames with built-in revolving doors the only task not carried out at ground level , the pavilion only took thirty minutes to inflate. Inside the pavilion, a ten-kilowatt working nuclear reactor was housed inside another inflatable dome, also manufactured by Birdair. As a temporary and mobile building, the AEC Pavilion dispelled any uncertainties about the structural and performative instability of pneumatics.
When installed at each location, the impermanent building appeared to be almost over-inflated—photographed from a distance, its puffiness was more akin to that of a static sculpted concrete shell, rather than an active air-filled membrane. With the exception of the revealed inflated tubes framing a covered entry on both ends of the pavilion, the pneumatic logic rendered itself far less visible than one might expect.
Whereas most air-supported structures tend to be simple domes, or elongations of domical forms that still retain a closed figure in plan, the AEC pavilion is better described as an open-ended vault, or half-tube, deformed to produce two approximately hemispherical spaces joined by a central neck, and entered by means of arched porches, about the same diameter as the neck, at either end.
Unlike many of the flimsy agitprop wind-bags that would soon follow suit, the AEC Pavilion differentiated itself as a serious technical and formal alternative to conventional buildings. Walter Bird, photographed standing on top of one of his first pneumatic "radome" prototypes on the Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory grounds in Buffalo, New York, Source: Birdair, Inc.
In , Lanchester, along with his brother, developed another unbuilt proposal—this time for a meter diameter pneumatic exhibition building. In the s, pneumatics were identified for their capacity to quickly and effectively respond to a variety of specialized applications.
Initially operating as military decoys to attract and distract enemy forces during WWII, inflatable forms were soon thereafter advanced for purposes of enemy detection.
As Bird explains,. In , the engineer formed Birdair, Inc. Although it could be said that Bird played an instrumental role in both the development and popularization of air structures, they still remained a novelty throughout the s. The lack of building codes and standards to regulate their construction meant that each one was handled as a unique instance, raising concerns about their safety and viability as buildings.
Lundy and Bird designed and fabricated ten pneumatic structures for the Fair. A large cutout in the center of the canopy, through which a central mast rose to support the pneumatic roof, also allowed a view of the air structures from below. At night, strong lights mounted on their masts illuminated the pneumatic pavilions from within. Resulting in a network of glowing forms, the refreshment stands also served as beacons and way finding devices. The vertical lines make it look more like a growing thing. By the mids, the pneumatic project had almost entirely dissipated.
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It could be said that the structural instabilities—that is, the political, economic, social and environmental anxieties—of the first wave of pneumatics, are likewise plaguing contemporary society. As a result, the perceived if not romanticized instability of inflatables as instant, temporary, and disposable objects suggest a renewed desire to seek out alternative modes of expression.
A more mundane, yet sustaining identity for pneumatics has been their capacity to endure, and at times entertain. In the case of the AEC Pavilion—a rather early yet serious demonstration of the architectural viability of air structures to perform efficiently, economically, and effectively—blowing up can be a compelling, if not practical solution. Understanding the untapped potential for pneumatics to transcend simple domes and pool enclosures, Lundy demanded more architectural innovation out of this emergent building type.
Pneumatic structures are of this age and into the future. Whitney Moon is Assistant Professor of Architecture at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she teaches history, theory and design. Her research interests reside in 20th and 21st century art and architecture, with an emphasis on theatricality, performance and ephemeral works. Click to start a discussion of the article above.
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Peter Murray and Tony Gwilliam designed the transparent inflatable for Nova magazine. It should be noted that New York-based designer Jesse Seegers was hired as the inflatable architecture consultant to carry out the project, which was fabricated out of 20 mm PVC vinyl by Polyfabrics in the Los Angeles area. See Felicity D. The blazing redundant surfaces disorient. One wallows in space. When the sun goes behind a cloud you cease cooking and immediately start freezing. Ant Farm is working on insulation schemes. To counteract the cold Fred hung heat lamps from the ceiling which ascended and descended with variation in pillow pressure.
Here, during blower adjustment, my light is busy scorching the floor. Environmentally, what an inflatable is best at is protecting you from a gentle rain, not a problem here. Reprinted in Dessauce, ed. Lundy also brought on structural engineers Severud-Elstad-Krueger and mechanical engineers Cosentini Associates as consultants on the project.