The Architecture is the Sketch

By Molly Steenson

Cedric Price’s Generator (1976–79) sought to create the conditions for shifting, changing personal interaction with this reconfigurable and responsive architectural project. A series of 150 12’ by 12’ mobile cubes, catwalks, screens and boardwalks, all of which could be moved by mobile crane as desired by users, Generator was intended for small groups of visitors to Howard Gilman’s White Oak Plantation on the coastal Georgia-Florida border. Since a retreat site composed of mobile, responsive components would prove an unfamiliar program, Price incorporated two social roles: “Polariser” and “Factor,” to catalyze on-site interpersonal dynamics and logistical requirements. In addition, collaboration with programmer/architects John and Julia Frazer stepped up this notion: Generator became “intelligent” with the addition of computer programs and embedded sensors in the site components, suggesting new layouts for Generator when they got “bored"—not moved or used adequately.

Generator was not built. It was realized in Price’s trademark sketches that were never the same from one moment to the next. These sketches, along with other diagram and notation, generate Generator. They prefigure its flexibility and responsiveness, producing Price’s conception of a ludic architecture of laziness, boredom and delight.