Other highlights include a 1969 spread on rethinking architecture to relate to education, featuring an illustration of American architect Charles Colbert’s 1966 design for a “Shoulder Carrel,” described as “an electronically controlled helmet that produces information for people to read.” All good fun, though it is something of a cliché to overstate people’s seer-like qualities; the label’s comparison of Colbert’s design to Google Glass is a bit glib.
A contemporaneous article by British architect Cedric Price on the “social usefulness of universities” is much more successful, however, given it chimes directly with present day debates. Price’s claim that “university should not only satisfy society’s immediate appetites but must create conditions for long-range work whose relevance to contemporary social, scientific, cultural, educational, operational patterning is to question it,” would win him many friends among contemporary academics, though perhaps not politicians.
Bau succeeds, then, as platform for experimentation, and in that sense it is easy to see why it has been so influential. This show is a useful, immediate introduction to some of Bau’s ideas, always much better expressed visually, as opposed to in endless blocks of text. The words might often remain frustratingly distant, but luckily, many of the relevant articles are still available online.