Architects' Revolutionary Council

Group – London, United Kingdom

1974 – 1980

Architects' Revolutionary Council (ARC), initially funded by the 'Rowntree Trust', was founded in 1974 by a group of students led by Brian Anson who was then lecturer at the Architectural Association. It remained a small group who were described as 'the enfant terrible of the radical architecture groups-variously feared, indulged, despised, and every now and then mocked'. Very much aware of their public image, ARC announced its formation at a press conference that also called for the abolition of the RIBA. They made extensive use of graphics derived from military symbolism to produce posters that denounced the RIBA, in order to mobilise architectural students and community groups. They believed that 'creative architecture should be available to all people in society, regardless of their economic circumstances'.

To enact their ideas, ARC members gave advice as 'community architects' on projects in Ealing, Colne Valley, and Bridgetown, as well as producing a series of community newspapers, including The Wild Duck and Colne Valley News. At the same time, ARC campaigned for 'revolutionary changes within the architectural establishment and specifically for the replacement of the RIBA by a new architectural system'. Together with the New Architecture Movement they set out to criticise the conventional notions of professionalism and the internalised structure of the profession, and in particular the system of patronage where the designer of a building has little contact with its user.

Oppositional to the core, ARC was a pressure group that also lead by example. Many of their demands seem even more relevant today, such as their calls for architects to take greater responsibility for their actions and for a general acknowledgement of the class divide that still pervades the profession. ARC came to an end in 1980 following Anson's move from the AA.

Other Work

'Architects Revolutionary Council--Its History and Its Present Aims', Building Design, (297)(1976): 9.

'Playing at Revolution in London: Manifesto of the Architects' Revolutionary Council', Architettura Cronache e Storia, 6 (228)(1974): 354.

References About

'Professional Revolutionaries: The Challenge to the Architectural Profession from Two Radical Groups of Architects--the New Architecture Movement and the Architects' Revolutionary Council', Architectural Design, (9)(1976), 556-58.

Edward Bottoms, "If Crime Doesn't Pay: The Architects' Revolutionary Council," AArchitecture, http://www.aaschool.ac.uk/AALIFE/archive.htm.

Anne Karpf, 'The Pressure Groups', Architects' Journal, (42)(1977): 728-34.

'Towards a New Architecture Movement: A New Architecture Movement Aiming to Capitalise on the Altruistic Instincts of Architects Is Being Founded by the Architects' Revolutionary Council', Architects Journal, (44)(1975): 885.

'Architects Revolutionary Council De Triomphe. An Investigation into the Aims of the Architects Revolutionary Council [Arc]', Building Design, (274)(1975): 14.

'The Revolution Comes to Ealing: Alternative Proposals for Development in the Ealing Town Centre Scheme Prepared by the Architects Revolutionary Council', Architects Journal, (28)(1975): 62.

See also: http://www.bdonline.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=3084058

Quotes

ARC calls on all those architects and others involved in the built environment who believe that we should cease working only for the rich and powerful minority or the bureaucratic dictatorship of Central and Local Governments and offer our skills and services to the local communities who have little chance to work directly with architects and architecture.
- ARC manifesto, 1976. Quoted in, Edward Bottoms, "If Crime Doesn't Pay: The Architects' Revolutionary Council," AArchitecture, http://www.aaschool.ac.uk/AALIFE/archive.htm.

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