Becoming an Architect & gaining your Part 3 – Practical Top Tips

This website hasn’t been active in a long while as I have been focusing on building my career in London for the last 3 years and studying to complete my Part 3 qualification remotely at the University of Westminster during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As my architecture portfolio and blog, it only seems right to provide an update on my Part 3 experience and some Top Tips that I have learnt from completing the course (and which will hopefully help others considering their Part 3 too!)

I completed my course at University of Westminster in October 2021. UoW follows a fairly typical course format and therefore my experience is limited to this type of course so I have tried to keep the content of this post more general.

When to begin the Part 3? I decided to enrol on a Part 3 course in September 2020 with 2 years post Part 2 experience. There is no right or wrong time to decide to complete the Part 3 (that’s a lie – there is a requirement to have 24month minimum experience! But beyond this, it is a personal choice). My main consideration was my own confidence and knowledge that I can competently and professionally perform my role as an Architect. The time between my Part 2 and Part 3 allowed me to settle into my job, naturally progress and gain the required experience of the ARB Professional Criteria. During this time I became project lead on a project onsite which was perfect for a Case Study project.


Top Tip No. 1 Take responsibility for getting the right professional experience. Keep your practice informed of what your plans for undertaking the Part 3 are, what experience you require and formulate a plan for getting there. Ensure you have an Employee Mentor and schedule regular meetings to discuss opportunities of going to site, working at different stages and be given more responsibility. Schedule meetings to discuss the Part 3 and note it on the agenda to discuss during staff reviews.

Top Tip No. 2 Document your time in timesheets and the details of what you have done. This makes both your PEDR’s (a requirement of studying the part 3) and writing about your Case Study so much easier. The PEDR’s (Professional Experience and Development Records) are a really painful part of the process and one position you want to avoid being in, is having deadlines and exams and having to spend time on the PEDR’s. I got in the habit of writing a description of what I did that week for each of the projects I worked on in my timesheets. Although laborious, it will help refresh your memory when writing and evaluating your progress. WORD OF WARNING one place I worked did not use timesheets as they are a small company, this meant trawling through emails to remember what I did- extremely painful and a waste of time! If your practice doesn’t have a process for timesheets try to get in the habit of recording time and what RIBA Stage of Work you are working on.


Top Tip No. 3 Where should you study? There are many courses available so ensure you research the course you want to apply to and consider:

  • Case Study – Is it likely you will be able to get a Case Study project? This could depend on the type of practice and projects you have. Ensure when you are considering where to go to talk to your Employee Mentor to discuss your options.
  • Course Length- Short courses do exist, these are particularly good for people who have been working/ running projects and already have the experience of being a project architect just without the qualification. Consider whether this is right for you without putting unnecessary pressure on yourself.
  • Course Structure and Location – Consider how this works for you. For instance I am working in London so studying in London around my job was the best thing for me. However, particularly since the pandemic, many course still might operate remotely and therefore you course choice might not be limited geographically. Some courses can be completed without needing to live in the same city. For instance the University of Bath do a week of intensive lectures meaning you can study there remotely but travel to Bath for a week. Ensure that you discuss your study leave allowance with your practice before deciding when to go and what is the best for you.
  • What type of learner are you – Do you like lectures and deadlines spread out? Or prefer to hit them all in one fowl swoop? At Westminster there is one lecture per week with one exam in Jan, another in April, and the Case Study in the summer. I liked this as it felt as if I was chipping away at the Part 3 however others prefer the structure of somewhere like London Met that has all of the deadlines structured more closely together.


For the Westminster Course the timetable typically runs something like this:

  • English Law, Regulations, Construction Procurement and Contracts module runs from September to January with a written Exam in January
  • Architectural Practice Management module ran January to April.
  • Draft of Case Study due around March
  • Final Coursework in June (including CV, Career Appraisal, Case Study and PEDR’s)
  • PEDR’s are signed by Academic Tutor periodically thoughout the course.

This format worked well for me and I found that the lectures helped to informed my case study so as the lectures were underway, I would use a different coloured pen or sticky note to mark where a topic was related to my case study this in turn helped to formulate the case study into a structure. This only worked as I knew what my case study was prior to beginning the course which some people don’t have the luxury of so don’t worry if you don’t have a project at this stage however consider if parts of the course will help inform others.

The lectures being spread throughout the year also meant I was able to start asking more contractual questions and engaging in conversation about procurement and tendering within my practice.

Top Tip No. 4 Use your practice’s resources as much as possible. The people you work with will have been through their Part 3’s and will have a wealth of knowledge, engage with that as much as possible. It is also a good time to set up meetings with other members of the design team and ask questions for your case study, that could be the Project Manager or Employer’s Agent etc.

Top Tip No. 5 Set up a study group. One area I struggled was studying for exams when the course was remote. I luckily knew one of two people from my masters course that were also at UoW so we were able to run through exam questions together however I could have benefitted from a larger group. Many practices have study groups set up, if yours does – use it! I tried to set one up with other Part 3’s in the office however we were all on different course with different deadlines and focuses so it didn’t work out however your practice should be able to facilitate study groups. This is also helpful when looking at how to structure the Case Study. It can be difficult to get people to share them but it is extremely helpful to look at how others have structured their documents.


Each course will give you a plethora of resources you should look at for the Part 3 however make sure the information is up to date with current legislation. Over the last few years, with Grenfell and regulation changes and pandemic, there have been lots of changes and it is beneficial to read up on the changes in the industry.

The resources that helped me the most were:

  • The Construction Information Service. This was more valuable to me that the university library. It has a wealth of knowledge and has many resources that your university won’t have. At Westminster, I was able to get access through the library online however my practice also have access so always worth checking where you work. There are lots of publications including:
  1. RIBA draft contracts so you can look up wording and clauses and familiarise yourself with the most common agreements;
  2. Good Practice Guides – these are really useful RIBA guides on various aspects of practice. One of the most recent is Stephen Brookhouse and Peter Farrall’s GPG on Fees, one-stop-shop for all fee-related queries and was published in 2021 so if very up-to-date.
  3. Sometimes the latest versions of key Part 3 books such as Stephen Brookhouse’s Part 3 Handbook and Matthew Cousin’s Architect’s Legal Handbook so it is really worth checking if you can’t find anything on your university library or your practices own resources.
  4. Sarah Lupton Guides – Sarah Lupton has a series of guides that look at different contracts and procurement routes. Essentially she breaks down the clauses of the contracts and explains what these mean in real terms. She uses law case studies to explain the contract mechanisms and often compares the different types of routes to show how they differ particularly in relation to the Architect’s Role.

The key resources I found useful were:

Scenario-based resources – If you are like me and learn best through scenarios, these are really key resources that include case law and explanations around the impacts of certain policies or contractual clauses and were really useful for my understanding as a whole:

  1. Stephen Brookhouse and Peter Farrall’s Good Practice Guide, Fees
  2. Sarah Lupton, Guide to JCT Standard Building Contract 2016
  3. Sarah Lupton, Guide to JCT Design and Build Contract 2016 – Note my case study was design and build procurement so I used this a lot. The Standard Building Contract is commonly used for exams as it has provision for the Architect as Contract Administrator.
  4. RIBA Plan of Work 2013 Guide – Town Planning – Note although this isn’t related to the most current Plan of Works (2020) the guide is really clear and gives examples and scenarios to explain the impact of different planning policies and laws etc.
  5. David Chappell, Construction Contracts Questions and Answers – This book basically runs through a number of different commo issues that occur in construction contracts and provides answers and explanations. This was one of the closest resources I found to scenario-style questions that can come up in exams. I haven’t been a Contract Administrator myself so this book really helped me understand that role and the difficulties that can occur.

Other key resources

  •  Guide to RIBA Professional Service Contracts
  • Simon Foxell, Starting a Practice A Plan of Work
  • RIBA Code of Professional Conduct
  • RIBA, Handbook of Practice Management – Note I believe the latest edition to this book is 2013 and therefore doesn’t include key criteria such as CDM regulations 2015. It is good as an overview and particularly in-depth for practice management but ensure you also use other, more recent, sources.
  • Matthew Cousin’s Architect’s Legal Handbook – Note book for quick explanations of key legal terms and a current edition is available.
  • JCT Practice Note on Tendering
  • HR for Creative Companies
  • Which Contract & Deciding on the Appropriate JCT contact – Note both of these are really clear in terms of what procurement/ contracts are used for what and the situations where different variations might be chosen. Although other contracts (aside from JCT) exist and are commonly used within the industry, it is unlikely they will come up in an exam situation but are more likely to be used in your case study.
  • Architect’s Registration Board, The Architects Code: Standards of Professional Conduct and Practice.
  • RIBA, RIBA Job Book
  • RIBA, Plan of Work 2020 Overview
  • HSE, Managing Health and Safety in Construction, Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 L153.
  • RIBA, Good Practice Guide: Marketing your Practice.
  • RIBA, Good Practice Guide: Painless Financial Management

Note- these were just my top resources and everyone’s style of learning is different. Your universities will give you a reading list and ask your practice and colleagues what helped them prepare the most!

Note that this post is biased toward the Westminster course structure and there are other options out there but hope this has helped provide some tips for completing your Part 3.

New Venture! Society6!

I’ve begun to create and sell my illustrations on Society6. Visit my shop here:

I’ve been creating prints for family and friends for years and now am trying something new and will post updates using this platform.

Above is my first collection that capture memories from my trip to Namibia at the beginning of 2020 and before the pandemic. I took photos while on safari in Etosha National Park. This was a big trip for me as it was my first solo travel and first time travelling in Africa. It was therapeutic to create these illustrations while in lockdown and reminisce of better times.

Follow my Pinterest :

And my Instagram :

Brexit : The Architect’s Opportunity?

I want to discuss Brexit in relation to the architectural profession, the role of architects as visionaries and speculate on how this might all play out. It’s a different perspective on Brexit, I promise.


In my career so far, I have felt frustrated. Architectural education creates the beautiful illusion that architecture will change the world. I believed this. I still believe this, but I have gained a new perspective along the way. During first ever work placement in my second year at the University of Bath, the illusion of the master builder dissipated as I began to learn about the realities of the construction industry, the amount of people involved and my role within the design team. I have since become interested in how I can contribute to society through architecture and satisfy my millennial mindest of changing the world. I began to research different forms of practice; I read Rory Hyde’s ‘Future Practice: Conversations from the edge of Architecture;’ I attended talks by 00 Architects and discovered the WikiHouse Project; I then decided to study the work and practice of Cedric Price as my dissertation subject during my MArch.

My interest in the WikiHouse Project led me to Dark Matter and the work of Indy Johar, the founder of 00 Project. In a lecture he gave entitled ‘Democratizing Cities’ he showed a slide of an RIBA Award winning private house and explained that this architecture isn’t what he is interested in, because it is for one person, who is undoubtedly very wealthy. This statement came as a bit of a relief to me. I do enjoy working on private housing projects and helping people design their homes, but this is a luxury that many people cannot afford. Ultimately, I want to be involved in change; I want to be involved in creating innovative projects that improve the lives of many.

I believe in a holistic approach to architecture. Politics and policy, religion and culture, technology and production all need to be addressed to create innovative design.

An Opportunity?

This is what has brought me to Brexit. Right now the country doesn’t know what will happen – let alone forecast the impact on the architectural profession. At the moment, architecture magazines are publishing articles titled: ‘British architecture projects under threat from Brexit’ The Guardian, and: ‘Architects warn of ‘dull design’ following drop in registrations from EU’AJ. I, as a firm Remainer, am also worried about the impact socially, economically, culturally, that Brexit will have on Britain.

‘The Great Restructuring Begins,’ is an article on Dark Matter by Indy Johar. He explains: ‘The UK is the first global economy staring into the face of the 21stCentury Great Restructuring. This restructuring both in terms of speed and size will need to be of a magnitude unwitnessed by a major global economy in modern history,’ (Johar. I, (2018) ’The Great Restructuring Begins,’ [Online] Available at:[Accessed 20th September 2018])Johar explains that Brexit has created a shock, like an earthquake, to the system, and once the shock is over the ‘restructuring’ will begin; and this can be seen as an opportunity which may or may not pay off. Johar talks about new ways of governing the country that operates under equality, justice and freedom. Therefore the reformation of policy following Brexit couldhelp to create more holistic legislation and policy that would aid this holistic approach to architecture and innovative design.

The Architectural Profession

Viewing Brexit as an opportunity, is something that may not be realised for years after Britain has left the EU. The RIBA have published two documents: ‘RIBA Global by Design 2018’ report and the ‘RIBA Global Talent Global Reach’ report. They highlight the major concerns for architects and the industry as well as trying to estimate likely outcomes. Architecture directly contributes £4.8 billion to the UK economy every year with a further £1 billion a year contribution embedded in the exports of the other industries it supports- from banking to museums, transport to IT service (Royal Institute of British Architects (2017), ‘Global Talent, Global Reach,’ [Online] Available at[Accessed 20th September 2018] page 4). The biggest asset in Architecture is the people, where two thirds of the industry is labour. According to the Annual Business Survey in 2015 only 33% of production in architecture is accounted for by intermediate inputs, compared will overall 66% across the wider economy (RIBA (2017), p18). The UK industry is currently made up of 25% EU architects, therefore the major worry is the loss of skill and talent.

Here are some more figures from the ‘RIBA Global by Design 2018’ report:

74% of architects state that access to the EU single market is necessary to expand international work.

47% of architects working at large practices are concerned that a no MRPQ (Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications agreement) would mean they lose valued staff.

Ensuring retention of common product standards is a top regulatory concern.

54% think that new trade agreements with priority trading nations will further boost exports.

60% want new MRPQ agreements to boost architecture exports.

86% of architects believe that access to international skills and talent is important to the future success of the sector.

Over two thirds (68%) of architects have reported project put on hold, and more that 2 in 5 (43%) of architects report project cancellations since the EU referendum.

71% of architects are concerned that Brexit will have a negative impact on the built environment.

27% of architects have considered increasing workloads in the UK in response to Brexit, rising to a third (32%) for architects that work in small and medium- sized practices.

(Royal Institute of British Architects, (2018) ‘RIBA Global by Design 2018’ March 2018’ [Online] Available at  [Accessed 20th September 2018])

If we consider the statistic in relation to Johar’s idea of the ‘Great Restructuring’ it appears ironic that this is the very time where in fact, the UK needs creative thinkers. If it weren’t for the leave campaign being aligned with racism and the hostile attitude to EU workers which have caused 60% of EU architects to consider leaving the UK since the EU referendum, then the UK would gain considerably from innovative thinkers from the EU and the world, to help design and rebuild the UK.

 David Chipperfield’s tone in his article: ‘The RIBA is letting the profession down over Brexit’ in the Architects’ Journal in May 2018, is frustrated. Chipperfield recognises the unique position of architects as a creative and cultural sector that has the advantage of a representative professional body. He also asks with some exasperation, ‘Can we imagine previous generations of architects being so quiet about an issue that will have such an important role in defining our future and what society we want?’ (Chipperfield, D (2018), ‘The RIBA is letting the profession down over Brexit,’ Architects’ Journal. [Online] Available at[Accessed on 22nd September 2018]). I muse to myself at this, imagining Price and the Archigram crew who would be jumping at this opportunity to be involved in creating a new vision for the UK; because that’s it, no one is trying to create a vision. I think we are all hoping it won’t actually happen because of the fear of what will happen to the economy, our health service and the worsening conditions for the poorest in the country. Maybe it is due to the fact that architects have been restricted in many ways by the construction industry, that the pioneering attitude of the visionary architects of the 20thCentury has diminished?

The removal of free movement may also impact the innovations in travel. The Europe Hardt Hyperloop for example – topical at the moment with UNStudio unveiling its proposal for a hyperloop transport hub- a sustainable a transport system that travels between cities at speeds of up to 700 miles per hour, though semi-vacuum tubes. This could be implemented all around the world, across Europe and the UK. The possibilities created by allowing free movement between the UK and Europe could have an impact on immigration- where the need to live in the city you work in eliminated. The ability to move across borders would make a dramatic change to how we work and live. It would impact our cities and inflation as people wouldn’t need to live near their jobs. But what happens without free movement? Of course the UK could still build its own hyperloop connecting England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales; but the opportunities of multi-border-breaching transport would in itself require restructuring of the country.

The conclusion?I have no idea what will happen, just like the rest of the country – but, the politics is interesting. Chipperfield and Johar seem like they do agree that this is a pivotal point in changing our society. Chipperfield sounds exasperated as he asks, ‘A few months ago, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier asked what sort of society Britain wanted to be?… Why is no one answering Barnier?… Is this not our challenge?As architects, we are on the very front line of so many of the issues that will, and do, affect us all. Should we not demand realistic answers to the issues that will determine our future, not only commercially but morally, emotionally, societally?’ As architects we deal with the issues of today, sustainability, transport, energy, as well as designing for well being, community and equality. Despite the disruption and instability that is to come, and is already affecting the country; there is also opportunity.

I think this is an important time of change and whether we voted for it or not, whether there is a second referendum or not and whether Brexit actually happens or not, the creative thinking of architects and designers is critically needed in order to create an innovative future.

Johar. I, (2018) ’The Great Restructuring Begins,’ [Online] Available at:[Accessed 20th September 2018]

(Royal Institute of British Architects, (2018) ‘RIBA Global by Design 2018’ March 2018’ [Online] Available at  [Accessed 20th September 2018])

Royal Institute of British Architects (2017), ‘Global Talent, Global Reach,’ [Online] Available at[Accessed 20th September]

Chipperfield, D (2018), ‘The RIBA is letting the profession down over Brexit,’ Architects’ Journal. [Online] Available at[Accessed on 22nd September 2018]

DISCUSSION : RIBA Somerset Annual Lecture; Mary Duggan on ‘Sense + Place’

On the evening of the 4thof September I visited a lecture organised by the RIBA Somerset branch. Mary Duggan of Mary Duggan Architects (2017) and co-founder of Duggan Morris Architects (2004) presented a lecture entitled ‘Sense + Place.’ It was a thought provoking talk where Mary considered her feelings about the architectural profession and key ideas which permeate through her work.

The lecture was split into themes that focus Mary’s thoughts about architecture to help to understand and develop a narrative within her practice. The lecture began with a personal reflection on her career and how creating Mary Duggan Architects has given her a chance to redefine her work. “I have an opportunity, outside the profession of architecture, to consider my role and what I really think architecture is about.” 

A slight note of frustration with the current status of architects could be felt as she spoke. She expressed the desire to create conversations with clients about architecture rather than being confined to conversations about commercially driven numbers and figures. This would allow the architect to propose a solution they intuitively know is right, rather than being limited to proving to developers, or banks, or property managers, that a particular scheme doesn’t work.

This frustration is something I have also felt, even during my part one and part two practice experience. The role of the architect has changed from being the master builder to somehow being required to prove worth and ability. My research ‘Cedric Price – Events in Time’ was motivated by this frustration, since Price was an architect intent on changing the profession. Although very different architects, some of Price’s ideas about architecture resonated in Mary’s lecture- particularly the themes of process and time.

Mary Duggan presented the Duggan Morris Curtain Road project in Shoreditch. The question of heritage and conservation arose for a building which was relatively low grade. Despite this, the planners wanted to retain the urban block. The result was the preservation of a piece of the original façade which enabled the new development to be free from any historical references to the street. The issue of heritage in the UK has always been controversial within architecture. Mary explained, “one thing I have always struggled with is this notion that the answer to an architectural problem lies in something that has already been built.” It is important to understand what has been built before, but historical typologies were created in historical contexts, therefore, despite the wish to preserve and reference these buildings, they cannot be the answer to the requirements of the modern world. In the Curtain Road project, preservation frees up the rest of the design and is therefore a compromise that pays off and allows this alien form to feel like it has dropped out of the sky.

One of the most interesting parts of the Curtain Road project, and why I have drawn a connection between the work of Mary Duggan and Cedric Price, is the idea of a ‘mean-while’ project. Due to issues occurring on site that delayed construction, the architects were aware of the impact of stagnant construction sites on the city scape and the people who encounter them daily. Tim Etchells installed an art installation in the window of part of the building that was water tight and thus helped to animate that space. “I’m not saying that the vision of the construction has to be in any way beautiful but rather that there’s an understanding of time and process in architecture.” Cedric Price believed architecture is a process not a product. With his work on Inter-Action Centre, Price wanted to animate and bring life to the ‘building’ before it was completed. Usually time in architecture is associated with how quickly buildings can be erected. Time is a process and stretches out before, during and after construction. Mary highlights this also, explaining, “you may have a job in the city for three years, and within that time frame you walk past this one building that happens to be a building site.” Buildings have an impact on people whether they are incomplete, complete, derelict or crumbling down. Realising this, by creating an ‘event’ of the building during all stages of its life, ensures the architectural intervention has a positive impact on people and the urban fabric.

Mary Duggan has begun an artist residency in her practice. The idea is to encourage interdisciplinary conversations, whether it is about materials, craft or the process of making. Looking outside the profession for discussions and inspiration contributes to enriching projects and how we think about architecture. “We think a lot about what the start point of the building might be. We talk very early on about whether we are going to cast something… or is this a very lightweight building that starts with an idea about structure and idea about shape.” As a practice which uses models as a key development and design tool, learning techniques for using materials and textures and thinking about how time may affect or change the quality of a material, is a discussion which occurs early on.

Mary discusses the proposal for the Performing Arts Department in a school. Using façade studies, texture is created on the external wall which the children walk past to get to and from the building. I can imagine young kids walking past the wall, running their fingers along the reliefs each day. Familiarity and identification is also a theme Mary discussed. Using local materials helps to ground buildings in place; however, texture, light and material quality can also create a sense of belonging. Successful public buildings are those that people identify with. Mary uses the example of autistic children. Designing for special needs is a huge topic that many building designs neglect, doing only the minimum according to building regulations. Architecture finds its worth when everyone can enjoy it with ease- and this isn’t a particularly easy thing to do as the designer- to see through the eyes of the many different users to create spaces which belong to them. This is why we love certain buildings and, maybe, why we like to preserve buildings, because good design creates places that mean something to us.

As a lecturer, Mary took me on a journey with her as she pondered her frustrations and as she thoughtfully considered those ideas that created successful projects. Her words enabled me to reflect myself, reflect on her words, and reflect on what makes me truly enjoy architecture.

Cedric Price : Events in Time

During my MArch I became interested in the work of Cedric Price. Despite his most famous projects not being built, Cedric Price is an increasingly influential figure in architect today. There is an expanse of literature written, not only about his projects, but also discussing his thoughts on the role of architecture in society, the role of the architect and ideas of authorship and his experimentation integrating technology with architecture.

In his works on Cedric Price, Stanley Mathews describes Price’s Fun Palace project (1961) as ‘events in time rather than objects in space’(Stanley Mathews, ‘The Fun Palace as Virtual Architecture:Cedric Price and the Practices of Indeterminacy’ In Journal of Architectural Education Vol. 59, No. 3 (2006), 42). The illusive phrase has been the catalyst for this topic and the tool to evaluate Price’s views on architectural discourse and discuss how architecture can be described as an ‘event’ as opposed to an ‘object’. The unbuilt Fun Palace Project is analysed against the completed Inter- Action Centre (1976-2003) and the Pompidou Centre(1971),in this post, which are both considered to be physical manifestations of the Fun Palace. The Fun Palace has been credited with being the main inspiration for the design of the Pompidou Centre and, although a controversial building to begin with, its popularity has grown to establish it as an important part of Paris’ urban fabric. Inter-Action Centre, significantly smaller than the Fun Palace and the Pompidou Centre, has been coined the ‘bargain-basement’ version, as the design incorporated many of the same features as Fun Palace but was much less technologically advanced.

‘Cedric Price,’ RIBA collection, Architectural Journal (2016) sourced online from only-as-good-as-the-individuals-in-them/10012939.article, (accessed 4th November 2017)

Product vs Process

One cultural idea that began to define the period of the 1950s and 60s was the idea of the ‘incomplete’ or ‘undetermined’. This appeared in science, with Heisenberg’s Indeterminacy Principle, and in art with the work of Mondrian, which ‘implied infinite extension’(Simon Sadler, ‘Archigram Architecture Without Architecture’ Cambridge, Mass.; London: MIT, 2005), 93). The open plan layout and composition of columns in the work of Mies Van De Rohe brought this concept into the domain of architecture. For Price, the idea of indeterminacy was related to his ideas about time as a sequence of events, a theory likened to the work of philosopher Henri Bergson (1859-1941). It is this sequence of time that is apparent in Price’s attitude to design. Price proclaimed against the architects’ goal of producing ‘end-products’ explaining that ‘if the designer pays more attention to life/performance and sequential operational capacities than to end products, then he may at last find himself in the position of a social innovator’ (Cedric Price, (1969) ‘The Industrial Designer’ Architectural Design 39:2 found in ‘Cedric Price Works 1952-2003- A Forward-Minded Retrospective. Volume 2: Talks and Articles,’ ed. Hardingham, Samantha (2016)  (London: Architectural Association, 2016), 108).

Cedric Price demonstrated the sequential nature of design, most evidently in his Inter-Action Centre. The Inter- Action Centre was a community arts centre designed for a community charity. The client needed a flexible space for including performance spaces, exhibition spaces, offices and media and nursery facilities. In order to create this, Price designed a two-storey, steel trussed frame with a membrane roof that covered the whole site. Prefab units sat within the centre of the frame with space to the north and south ends to allow for expansion. The design was created around giving flexibility to the community that would use it. One of the most successful parts of Inter- Action was this idea of process. During construction money ran short, but Price used this to an advantage; he designed the construction sequence so that the steel framework and foundations would initially be erected and define the space. This  was then used to hold events such as markets and fairs, creating a lived and usable space. This also gave the community the chance to inhabit the volume which had the advantage of being a 1:1 working model. In this way the construction and life of Inter-Action became an event in itself. It became a place people could inhabit at different stages of its life in different ways.

The architecture became a backdrop to facilitate human activity. This idea may have had some influence from the International Situationists’ idea of ‘situations’. Situations were created to ‘stimulate new sorts of behaviour based on human encounter and play’ (Simon Sadler, ‘The Situationist City’ (Cambridge: The MIIT Press, 1998), 105). Constants was a member of International Situationists and, although Price didn’t refer to the work of IS directly, his work has a relationship with concepts in New Babylon. By defining a secure, roofed framework for Inter-Action Centre, it could be argued that this induced a change in behaviour where by people were encouraged to inhabit the space throughout its life. Price remarked, delightedly, that Inter-Action Centre ‘implies that something should be done to it’ (Cedric Price, ‘Inter-Action’ Domus 205/81 (1978), 281). Price intended to allow the community to be involved in developing the life of Inter-Action, past the point of his involvement.

Despite not being built, ‘process’ manifested in a different way in the design and aims of the Fun Palace. Price picked two potential sites; the Isle of Dogs in London’s East End and Mill Mead. Both sites were wasteland, bombed during the war, but they both had good communication and transport links and were therefore significant and underutilised sites in the city. Price saw the potential of these sites and how the Fun Palace could create a ‘situation’ as a catalyst to activate and give life back to the area. As an impermanent structure with a life-span of 10 years, the Fun Palace would create an event and inhabit the landscape while, possibly, plans for a new project could be drawn up. The application for the Fun Palace was originally denied by London County Council Parks Commission for use of the Isle of Dogs site.

Price saw the importance of the building having a positive impact during all stages of its life, including the effect on the site following deconstruction. Price explains, in an article in: Techniques et Architecture, ‘that a shift from product to process has the social advantage of reducing the architect’s and designer’s present unhealthy concern with the completeness of the end-product’ (Cedric Price, ‘Creativity and Technology’ Techniques et Architecture; ‘Cedric Price Works 1952-2003- A Forward-Minded Retrospective. Volume 2: Talks and Articles.’ Ed. Hardingham, Samantha (London: Architectural Association, 2016) 234). The Inter-Action Centre, in comparison to traditional construction processes which entail unsafe building sites, delays or economic factors can be detrimental to the project, allowed use to be made of the site so that the framework provided an evolving backdrop for the people, and those events became the architecture. Le Corbusier proclaimed that it was the people who were the art and not the buildings and Price pushed this concept further to the forefront of his intention; to create an ‘architecture’ of anti-aesthetic.

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Price, Cedric; Littlewood, Joan, ‘The FunPalace,’ The Drama Review: TDR, 12(3) (1968), 128

In spite of Price’s ‘anti-aesthetic’ aim, the ‘utilitarian shed’ structure emerged as a style in its own right. It can be traced back to Rietveld-Schroder House by Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld (Utrecht 1924). Reyner Banham produced the book ‘Theory and Design in the First Machine Age’ which depicted new technologies and structures using prefabricated and mass produced components. When the Pompidou Centre, by Rogers and Piano, was built in 1971, it became an emblem of this ‘high-tech’ aesthetic. Inspired by the Fun Palace, the Pompidou Centre is an art and cultural centre in Paris. Likened to a meccano set, the building is turned inside out with the structure and services creating the envelope to uninterrupted floor space within. In respect to Price’s ideas regarding process, it could be argued that the Pompidou Centre is a product, a product of the ‘utilitarian shed’ aesthetic. The competition for the Pompidou Centre, Rogers and Piano were required to submit drawings and a model of the ‘end-product’, of their design proposition. Price, however, refused to submit any perspective visions to be published of the Fun Palace until 1965 in an edition of Architectural Record, three years after beginning the project. He used sketches and diagramming in his designs but always as part of the process not the product as he said that he didn’t think the Fun Palace ‘would look the same twice’ (Cedric Price, ‘Life Conditioning,’ Architectural Design, (October 1966), 483).

Flexibility vs Rigidity

‘Events in time’ implies a relationship with motion and fluidity of occurrences as opposed to a rigid artefact. Originating with experiments of movement in cubism, the artists of the 1950s and 60s extended the idea of movement to performance art and happenings; using the human body to create theatrical installations and express movement which freed artists from the static nature of painting and sculpture. Sigfried Giedion discussed the idea of motion in the Eiffel Tower, emphasized by the ‘effect of a ‘rotating’ space that is produced by climbing the spiral flights of steps’ (Hilde Heynen, ‘Achitecture and Modernity: a Critique’ (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1999), 30). In the post war years, however architects sought to combine technology and motion to create flexible designs to accommodate the uncertainty in society.

In Reyner Banham’s 1965 article ‘Clip on Architecture’ discusses the methods of indeterminate architecture or ‘endless’ architecture explored by Archigram, the Smithsons and Richard Llewelyn Davis during the 1950s and 60s. Llewelyn Davis’, Northwick Park Hospital (1961-1974) was based on Miesian ideas about repetition of columns and details to create an apparently ‘infinate’ facade. The Smithsons’, House of the Future (1955), and Archigram’s Plug-In City (1964), were projects composed of modular units which were flexible in their ability to be added or subtracted from the building whole. Plug-in City also proposed kit-of-part structures which were made from prefabricated elements and assembled together to create a unified whole. ‘Kit-of-parts’ here refers to the construction idea, born out of the industrial revolution and new materials, that used a series of smaller components fitted together to create a complete vast structure. Price used prefabricated, ‘kit-of-part’ construction to create internal volumes in the design for Inter-Action Centre. The internal volumes sat in the middle of the major steel framework, allowing future extension to the south and north sides.

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Banham, Reyner, ‘A Clip-On Architecture,’Design Quarterly No 63, (1965), 24

In basic terms, both the Pompidou Centre and the Fun Palace used a similar method for designing ‘flexibility’. Both have a major structural framework which allowed more temporary structures to be erected inside. The Pompidou Centre has uninterrupted floors of volume 170 x 48 x 7m. By comparison, the Fun Palace had a major framework that defined a space of 114 x 260 x 37m (divided into six stories-although no single solid floor separated the floors). In both projects the framework contained the vertical circulation. Roger and Piano had a hierarchy of flexibility in terms of time and effort taken. The easiest adaptable element is the ‘burlanschaft partitions that can be moved in a minute, the larger suspended museum partition may take an hour and the fire walls may take a day to unbolt’ (Piano and Rogers Architects; Renzo Piano Workshop Ove Arup and Partners; Arup Group Ltd; edited by Futagawa Yukio ‘Centre Beaubourg, Paris, France, 1972-1977’ Series: GA global architecture : an enc encyclopedia of modern architecture, (44 Tokyo : A.D.A. Edita, 1977), 6-7). The framework also allowed partitions to clip on and off the major structure. Despite these details, Kenneth Frampton, in his book: Modern Architecture, A Critical History, asserts that the expansive exhibition floors do not provide sufficient wall space to work as a gallery, arguing that another ‘building needed to be built within the skeletal volume’ (Kenneth Frampton, ‘Modern Architecture : A critical History,’ (London: Thames and Hudson LTD 1992), 285). He goes on to criticise the amount of space, deeming it excessive, resulting in ‘an under-provision of wall surface and an over-provision of flexibility’ (Ibid.) Frampton points out the drawback of simply defining a space within which flexible elements can be assembled and dissembled. Additionally, Frampton’s comments highlight that the ability to change the environment isn’t within the power or competence of the visiting public.

In the design for the Fun Palace, Price wanted to give the control of flexibility to the users. Therefore, in addition to the major framework, kit-of-part and inflatable enclosures, Price wanted to incorporate responsive technology into the design as he believed that ‘architects must generate technologies which are creative in operation’ (Price, 2016, 235). Technology was already being used in the work of artist Roy Ascott who experimented with combining theatrical installations with information technology to create ‘artwork that would interact with and respond to users’ (Matthew, 1984, 41). Price teamed up with Buckminster Fuller, Frank Newby, a structural engineer, and Gordon Pask, a cybernetics engineer and an acquaintance of both Price and Littlewood. Cybernetics and game theory, in simple terms, used the mathematical principles of probability and relativity to design a system that would ‘learn’ behavioural patterns and predict future activities by using a feedback system where the computers would document the user controls and, after collecting data, would be able to use the probability of certain movements based on these algorithms. The movements required by the users would control a 4.5m deep gantry crane, suspended from the roof and spanning the width of the structure, which would move the units along the length of the building. The ‘activity affinity system’ controlled the location and duration of a given unit, therefore ‘the internal plan was permanently in flux, altering hourly or weekly or at any interval in between, to achieve the desired immediacy of use’ (Samantha Hardingham, ‘Cedric Price Works 1952-2003- A Forward-Minded Retrospective. Volume 1: Projects’ (London: Architectural Association, 2016), 55-56). Unfortunately, there was a reaction against the use of cybernetics as it created ‘social control’ and seemingly treated humans as data.

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Price, Cedric; Littlewood, Joan, ‘The FunPalace,’ The Drama Review: TDR, 12(3) (1968), 133

Had the Fun Palace been built, it is unclear whether the technology would have worked, creating a flexible and dynamic performance, or whether the cybernetic ‘social control’ implications would have deterred visitors. Nevertheless, there are other similarities between the design for the Pompidou Centre and the Fun Palace. Both included interactive screens on the facades and both orginial designs allowed people to wander freely through the spaces. Both included a freely accessible ground floor level to encourage people to enter. Price wanted to have a completely open structure with no environmental envelope, in order to encourage 24-hour use of the structure. In order to combat the environmental issues of the structure being exposed, Price proposed incorporating ‘charged static vapour screens, optical barriers, UV light, warm-air barriers and tensioned roof blinds, with the whole continually cleaned by recirculated river water’ (Hardingham, (2016), 55-56). In the case of the Pompidou Centre, practicalities and security resulted in restirctions to ground floor accesss, the removal of the proposed animated screen and, in 1997, the escalators to the public rooftop were restricted to ticket holders only. The detail of the façade for the Pompidou Centre allows the glazing to be removed as it isn’t attached to the columns. This is unlikely to happen, however the issues caused by the absence of an environmental envelope in the design of the Fun Palace alone would be problematic. In light of these restrictions, it is hard to argue that the Fun Palace would have been the open spectacle of movement Price intended.

Despite the restrictions practicalities may cause, Price’s work highlights the tension between freedom and control, where ‘the freedoms of the indeterminate buildings are generated out of pre-determined systems of control’ (Jonathan Hughs, ‘The indeterminate building’ in Non-Plan: Essays on freedom participation and change in modern architecture and urbanism, ed. Jonathan Hughes and Simon Sadler (Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2000), 103). He recognised the limitations of the use of modular, kit-of-part and extension methods of adaptability alone. His efforts in the pursuit of a virtual, responsive flexibility however, are still ahead of their time today and are possibly one of the reasons why Price’s contribution to architectural discourse is still so alive.

Impermanence vs Monumentality

In 1943 Sigfried Giedion set out his ‘Nine Points on New Monumentality’ which expresses the need for a new monumentality using new materials, such as lightweight metals, and techniques that more appropriately represented modern society. Price did not believe that creating monuments should be the aim of the architect and firmly maintained that buildings should have a life-span. Despite this, arguably, it is in Giedion’s nine points that Price’s influence on mainstream modernism is most evident. Giedion refers to the use of varying ‘mobile elements’ and mentions the use of technology ‘big animated surfaces with the use of colour and movement’ (Ockman, Joan (1993) ‘Architecture Culture 1943-1968’ (Columbia University, 1993), 30). In his eighth point, Giedion also makes reference to the importance of the site. As mentioned previously, Price also saw the importance of site and saw the Fun Palace as a ‘stepping stone to establish a new urban centre’ to transform a derelict, underutilised sites.

There are, however, some more traditional ideas about monuments in the Nine Points. Point one states ‘Monuments are human landmarks which men have created as symbols for their ideals, for their aims, and for their actions. They are intended to outlive the period which originated them, and constitute a heritage for future generations. As such, they form a link between the past and the future’ (Ockman, 1993, 29). There is an idea about time and process here, that follows on from part 2. It is interesting that in his book : Space, Time and Architecture, Giedion refers to Henri Bergson. Giedion remarks that he understands Bergson’s famous phrase that history ‘gnaws incessantly on the future’ (Sigfried Giedion, ‘Space, Time and Architecture: The growth of a new tradition’ (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, thirteenth printing, 1997), xliii). Therefore, although Price promotes consideration of the fourth dimension, and has written and given lectures on the idea of anticipatory architecture, he rarely talks about the role of architectural history, despite being extremely interested in it. Historical significance has led to the Pompidou Centre being referred to as a monument in numerous articles and literature since it has been built. The Pompidou Centre signifies a turning point of Parisian architecture and society which stands out as different from the other monumental structures such as the Eiffel Tower and Mitterand’s Grands Projets. It has become a crucial part of the identity of Paris. Considering this, Price didn’t believe the role of the architect should be the ‘provider of visually recognizable symbols of identity, place and activity’ (Mary Lou Lobsinger, ‘Cedric Price: An Architecture of the Performance’, in Anxious Modernism, ed. William Goldhagen, Sarah and Legault, Rejean. (Cambridge, The MIT Press, 2000), 124). Arguably, there is an irony here as the Fun Palace would have been a huge landmark set into the landscape, simply for sheer size. Additionally, Cedric Price was the first person to suggest having an enormous Ferris Wheel placed on the South Bank, which has since become, possibly, the most recognisable symbol for London.

Cedric Price, ‘Generator compared to otherCPAprojects,’(1977)foundinHardingham, Samantha, ‘Cedric Price Works 1952-2003- A Forward- Minded Retrospective. Volume 2: Talks and Articles.’ (London: Architectural Association, 2016), 465

In an interview with J B Archer discussing Inter-Action Centre, Price said that ‘buildings would become possibly monumentally sublime if their lifetime was far more sensitively attuned to their usefulness’ (Cedric Price and B J Archer, ‘London: Inter-Action Centre; Architects Cedric Price’, Domus no 581, April 1978), 21). Therefore, presumably Price didn’t reject the idea of monumental buildings, he even made reference to traditional proportions of buildings such as the Pantheon and the Crystal Palace when designing the Fun Palace; rather Price contested buildings exceeding their social relevance and becoming monumentalised. Price also questions the absence of monuments which could be a take on the Smithson’s brutalist ideas of ‘as found’ and discovery of relics. Although brutalism was at the opposite end of the spectrum of modernism, and the ‘as found’ idea usually referred to historic relics, there is a similar understanding of absence expressed in both ideas.

Price’s idea of life-span or ‘planned obsolescence’ is expressed most clearly in his argument against preservation. In ‘The Built Environment, a Case Against Conservation’, 1981, Price argued that the British attitude of preserving buildings prohibited regeneration of the built environment to suit the requirements of current societies. Price’s belief was that buildings are only relevant to society for certain amounts of time, past which they would no longer be needed. Price even fought against English Heritage, who wanted to list Inter-Action centre, arguing that the building only had a life-span of 20 years; it was demolished in 2003. Sigfried Giedion expresses a similar view in his book: Space, Time and Architecture. He discusses the organic nature of architecture, stating that ‘architecture exists to serve man who is as perishable as a plant. Thus architecture also bears certain human and plant-like traits’ (Giedion, 1997, 874). Although seemingly contradictory of the importance of heritage stated in his Nine Points, Giedion also agrees in the natural progression of buildings coming-to-an-end. Richard Rogers expresses a similar view in his book: ‘Cities for a Small Planet’ explaining that ‘modern life can no longer be defined in the long term and consequently cannot be contained within a static order of symbolic buildings and spaces’ (Richard Rogers and Philip Gumuchdjian, ‘Cities for a small planet,’ (London, Faber and Faber Limited, 1997), 163). Rogers alludes to Price’s ideas about life-span and against preservation. He doesn’t, however, provide a prediction of when a building has passed it’s sell-by-date or when it may be time for the demolition of the Pompidou Centre.

Reyner Banham described the Pompidou Centre as ‘a permanent image of change’ in an article in the New Society in 1986 entitled: ‘Art-Space Angst’. In this article Banham discusses the monumentalising of the ‘technology shed’ (Reyner Banham, ‘Arts in Society: Art-space angst.’ New Society, 75, (Jan 24 1986), 152) that is emblematic of the age of mobility and technology. For this reason, the Pompidou Centre has been widely criticised. The retrofit in 2000 and high-maintenance up-keep would have signalled the end of its life-time to Price and some critics argue ‘it lost its spontaneity’ (Vikki Millerm, ‘In Praise of Pompidou,’ Building Design. Issue no 1672 (2005), 14). Nevertheless, people still enjoy the building and it is a popular attraction. Even Reyner Banham expressed a delight in the building saying, ‘even as I checked out the complaints, and noted that there was substance in some of them, cheerfulness kept breaking through. It is still a whizz to visit, and you can sense just why it is so monstrously popular…Pompidou is an experience in its own right, whatever is going on’ (Banham, 1986, 152).

In the case of the Fun Palace Project and Inter-Action Centre, Price issued a prediction of when they would no longer serve a purpose to society. By assessing the Pompidou Centre it is clear that despite the need for refurbishments and ‘loss of spontaneity’ the building is still a valued platform for social events. Possibly a reason for this is its position in the historic and cultural background of the city, as it acts as a landmark but still has a role in society. It is evident, therefore, that there is an argument against Price’s assumption that the Fun Palace would only be relevant for 10 years; its relevance could cease before the 10 years is up or decades later. However, it is the temporal nature of Price’s work that defines it as an event in time.


The aim of this research has been to fundamentally evaluate Cedric Price’s ideas about architecture and to understand if it is possible for architecture to become events, shifting and turning in space rather than stagnant objects.

I began this research with an open mind, unsure as to what the outcome may be, however I predicted that Price’s work must be both an event in time and an object in space as I presumed the practicalities of erecting the Fun Palace would render it an object. After completing thorough research into Price’s ideas and influences from architectural discourse over the 20th century, I have observed that it is the temporal nature Price imposes on his projects that sets them free from the constraints of historic and environmental practicalities.

Despite Price’s insistence that the Fun Palace is no longer socially relevant, in 2004 a conference was held in Berlin titled ‘Fun Palace 200X’ (Philip Christou, ‘Making fun of buildings,’ Building Design. Issue no 1648 (2004), 25). Esteemed architects met to discuss possibilities for the Palast der Republik, formerly a multifunctional public building with political significance, which had been gutted due to asbestos with only the steel structure and concrete floor remaining. The cost of demolition or of constructing a new building were too great therefore the architects proposed creating a Fun Palace, a place for performances and multifunctional uses, to give a new life to the building while funds could be found for a longer term solution. Despite being deemed ‘unsuitable’ due to the Palast’s significance within the city, the conference illustrates the versatility of the Fun Palace project. Similar to the original Fun Palace, the conditions of the site and surrounding environment gave significance to the structure as a facilitator of activity. Therefore, although Price didn’t think the Fun Palace was socially relevant, there are conditions whereby the project, as a precedent, has become socially relevant again.

Price’s presence can also be felt in architectural discourse today. Practices such as Assemble, EXYZT and 00 Architects create temporary structure with designed life-span to invite public participation. Similar to Price, their work animates unused spaces. For instance, Assemble’s project ‘Folly for a Flyover’ (London, 2011) activates the unused area beneath two traffic bridges; their project Cineroleum (London, 2010) created a cinema from a disused petrol station. Temporality lifts the restrictions imposed due to environmental consideration and security because, as Cedric Price says, ‘its stated and designed limited life will in itself enable the palace to be used in the particular mental behaviour pitch reserved for immensely important impermanent objects of cherished social immediacy’ (Cedric Price and Joan Littlewood (1968), 129). The idea of life-span plays a key role in Price’s legacy, as it suggests that buildings may share subjectivity with their inhabitants; that buildings may be said to have a ‘story’ which unfolds in time, with a beginning, middle and ending. This life process is the key to meaning, to allow the building to reach its natural end rather than becoming fossilised in space. Both the Fun Palace and the Inter-Action Centre play their part in the search for meaning and Price’s aim to connect with the human as individual and not only facilitate the needs of the social animal but to aid the development of society. In spite of the potential issues of manifesting the Fun Palace in reality, it is hard to argue that the Fun Palace is anything other than an event in time.

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‘Fun Palace Cover.’ The Architectural Review ,vol cxxxvii, no 815 (October 1965)