The Fun Palace was a project by Cedric Price. Although never built, it remains a seminal concept for an extremely innovative type of multi-purpose cultural building whose key feature was its lack of formal design. The aim of the project was to make available a single, hands-on space whose diverse functions were interconnected episodes. It was to be a place where people would go not for any particular purpose but simply for the fun of the unexpected or the simple pleasure of a human experience.
“The activities designed for the site should be experimental, the place itself expendable and changeable. The organisation of space and the objects occupying it should, on the one hand, challenge the participants’ mental and physical dexterity and, on the other, allow for a flow of space and time, in which passive and active pleasure is provoked”. (1*)
Will Alsop’s THEpUBLIC building, inaugurated in June 2008 in West Bromwich, brings Price’s Fun Palace immediately to mind. It seems to be present as part of Alsop’s DNA.
In the career of every architect there are projects that for whatever complex and unexpected reasons have a significance that goes well beyond the building in question, triggering a creative process around it and beyond.
THEpUBLIC is a complex building, totally innovative and ahead of its time. It is the outcome of a long and intricate development process that produced a broad range of sketches and models, perhaps the most Will has ever produced for one single brief. The building was transformed as time and drawings went by, however the many ideas generated often went into other projects by Alsop’s practice. Like Price’s unrealised Fun Palace, THEpUBLIC can be considered Will Alsop’s seminal building.
West Bromwich in the West Midlands of England is a depressed, former industrial area with no cultural activities of note yet today the focus of a wide-reaching regeneration plan costing a total of around 700 million pounds. THEpUBLIC...
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