One Joan Littlewoods. The Fun Palace was

One of his most evolutionary and ambitious
projects is the well know ‘Fun Palace’ which unfortunately was never built. The
Fun Palace was meant to be built on the banks of the Thames in 1961 for the progressive theatre director Joan Littlewoods. The Fun Palace was
a proposition for an alternative educational leisure center that was designed
to facilitate various programmatic and spatial reconfigurations initiated by
its users. Littlewoods thought of the Fun Palace as a creative and constructive
outlet for this expected windfall of leisure. She saw it as a way to open the
British public to new experiences and the possibilities of lifelong learning
and discovery. Her idea of a theatre where the audience are also players
combined well with Price’s architectural vision of a collaborative and
ever-changing environment which would be a “laboratory of fun”, featuring
moving walls and floors, interactive panels and even an “inflatable conference
center”. Cedric considered the ‘theatrical’
brief as a problem not of static and solid ‘building’. ¬†Although it was never
realized, unlike other visionary projects of the 1960s it was fully intended to
be built. In approaching the design of the Fun
Palace, Price began by considering Joan Littlewoods’s ‘theatrical’ brief as a
problem not of static and solid ‘building’, but in terms of a new kind of
active and dynamic architecture which would permit multiple uses and which
would constantly adapt to change. It would be a network of multiple events, a
space of oscillation between incongruous activities. The spaces would have been
endlessly varied in size, shape, lighting and accessibility. Rather than seek
design ideas from the conventional repertoire of modernist objects and spaces,
he considered the program in temporal terms, and sought the solution within the
problems it posed. The Fun Palace would have to be an entity whose essence was
continual change, which permitted multiple and indeterminate uses. His designs
began to describe an improvisational architecture of constant activity, in a
continuous process of construction, dismantling, and reassembly. It would be a
vast framework where the working – class population of East London could
assemble their own learning and leisure environments, where Littlewoods’s dream
might be realized, where people might escape from everyday routine and serial
existence and embark on a journey of creativity and personal development. Price
thought of the Fun Palace in terms of process, as events in time rather than
objects in space, and embraced indeterminacy as a core design principle.