Power & Public Space 9: Ana Bonet Miro – Fun Palace

Matthew Blunderfield and Ana Bonet Miro

Power & Public Space is a podcast from Drawing Matter and the Architecture Foundation hosted by Matthew Blunderfield. You can find the full podcast series here. Or listen now:

Since its conception in the 1960s, the Fun Palace has circulated widely in architecture culture, and mainly through its provocative collages, characterised by giant space-frame trusses framing a flexible shed of interactive cultural events, accessible to all. These images persist as inspiring propositions for a new physical infrastructure of cultural exchange, and while they are often primarily attributed to Cedric Price, the project was actually the result of close collaboration between Price and the experimental theater director Joan Littlewood.

Littlewood’s radically inclusive programme aimed to counteract the elitism built into British society and arts policy of the time, reflecting her ambitions for a ‘theatre for all’. In this episode the architect and academic Ana Bonet Miro discusses how the Fun Palace was itself conceived as a kind of theatrical project. She also explains the impact this speculative project had on public discourse and the shaping of local developments of the time, how the Fun Palace might affect the way we conceive of public space today, and the kinds of lessons architects can learn from Littlewood and Price’s collaboration.

A conceptual project intended to be temporarily erected on disused public land, the project was circulated in broadsheets, brochures and even in film; as a media event it had the power to galvanise public debate around urban development in London (1964: Fun Palace A brochure by Cedric Price and Joan Littlewood. Cedric Price Fonds Canadian Centre for Architecture).