Capital of Feedback
Cedric Price’s Oxford Corner House (1965–66)
The body of work by British architect Cedric Price (1934–2003) is largely concerned with architecture’s relationship to technology and its impact on society. As contemporary architecture finds itself confronted with similar issues today, Price’s designs are being revisited and hailed for their prospective and inventive visions. As such, it seems timely to ask if Price’s designs can be regarded as precedents for future projects that aim to couple participation and technology through architectural design.
In this article, I depart from the economic logic of today’s digital platforms to analyse the participatory elements Cedric Price designed for Oxford Corner House (1965–66) to be ‘self-participatory entertainment’. As user participation has gradually been capitalised on through the evolution of digital technologies, I argue that the conditions for what participatory architecture entails have changed in turn. Whereas Price regarded the transfer of information as an activity for users of the Oxford Corner House to engage with freely, the operation of today’s digital platforms instead suggests that such activities are entirely facilitated in order to retrieve information from its users. In order to make this argument, I look at how Cedric Price envisioned digital technologies to sustain participation and in turn how he understood the concept of user participation and its relation to the architectural programme.
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