Potteries Thinkbelt

Location: Staffordshire, England
Client: none
Design: Cedric Price
Year: 1965-1968

Cedric Price (1934-2003) was one of the most unconventional architects working in the late twentieth century. In many ways he can even be considered an anti-architect; Price was a paying member of the British demolishers association. Most of his proposals question the status quo and are based on indeterminacy, unpredictability and inter-action. According to Price the role of architecture is not primarily to make, but to enable. Given a new assignment, the first question each architect should ask should be: is building necessary?
Together with experimental theater maker Joan Littlewood he proposed'Fun Palace'(1961), a huge flexible and changeable megastructure for theatre, dance, music, film and learning, that very muchy infuenced Archigram and Piano and Rogers Centre Pompidou in Paris.
Another big and influential project was Potteries Thinkbelt, a proposal for the reuse of the large and derelict pottery district of Staffordshire. This industrial landscape that developed in the course of centuries and consisted of a network of railway lines, canals, factories and warehouses, after the second world war quickly deteriorated. Besides the industries, most of them originating during the industrial revolution, declining all over the country, Great Brittan also went through a brain drain in the fifties. Price proposed to counter both tendencies by transforming the pottery brownfield area into a large scale technical university/laboratory. Making use of the existing infrastructure and of existing buildings, and adding new facilities for education, production and housing  where necessary, Potteries Thinkbelt was to be a fusion of university, laboratory and factory, where learning and doing were integrated.
Besides a social/educational experiment, Potteries Thinkbelt was one of the earliest examples of the reuse, restructuring and revitalization of derelict brownfields and although hardly taken seriously by both the profession and politics, it has since become an inspiration for many revitalization projects of the recent decades.





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