Progressive Architecture Manifesto [cover title: one, two, three]
The object: Slim quarto, 12.75 x 4 inches. 33 pp, printed in black and white. In Fair condition with a melange of discoloration, creasing, and general wear consistent with casual handling of an awkwardly shaped booklet. Wraps have a few repaired tears, significantly a 2x1" triangular piece at the bottom of the cover ideogram has been restored to archival standards with Tengujo and wheat paste. The image of the ideogram has been respectfully restored as a paper cutting with dyed Tengujo; it is not printed or drawn on and is fully reversible. The contents of the pamphlet are untouched and in much better condition. Very rare. Unrecorded in OCLC, it primarily exists as a whisper amongst the cult following (much like the journal "The Progressive City" which is advertised at the end of the manifesto, but there is no evidence that it ever went to print). Toker's only well-circulated publication was Spot on Istanbul, a counterculture guide to the city published in 1986.
The idea of Progressive Architecture was conceived by Biltin Toker in 1959 while he was a student at the Oxford School of Architecture. However, the Progressive Architecture Movement was not officially founded until after the seizure of the 'D' magazine proofs early in 1960. "D" magazine had been the leading organ of expression of those interested in developing Progressive ideas. Between January 1960 and June 1961 all students who had associated themselves with Progressive Architecture either left or were dismissed from the school.
The manifesto is cosigned by David Binns, Martin Freeman, and Martin Pawley, who appear to have contributed the "Representational diagrams showing the basis of the progressive city," but the text and design is the work of Toker. He advocates for radical changes to the status quo of urban spaces and the elimination of public vs private spaces, the destruction of traditional architecture ("A message to Air Forces of the world: in the event of war... we ask you to bomb as many historic buildings as possible").
Toker became a cult figure in architecture and is cited anecdotally as a visionary, but he died in 1996 and there is little remaining record of him in print. Various tributes to him can be found among online publications. Martin Pawley, one of the manifesto cosigners, published an article in Architects' Journal in 2004 that asserts Toker's influence on modern architecture, and how his visionary ideas play out in the contemporary work of Zaha Hadid and Daniel Libeskind. He provides some plot points that help contextualize the manifesto:
"Without delving into ancient history, there was certainly one predecessor who did found a short-lived school. His name was Biltin Toker, a Turkish architectural student born in 1937 who arrived at the Oxford School of Architecture (later to become the department of architecture at Oxford Brookes University) in the autumn of 1958. Toker's approach to designing buildings produced very similar results to Hadid's and Libeskind's but it was born into a much less permissive world.
Within a year of his arrival at Oxford, Toker had reached a stand-off position with the staff of the school. As a first-year student, he was expected to solve design problems like 'a garden workshop' or 'a branch library for Kidlington' with unadventurous pitched-roof designs using cavity walls and exposed aggregate panels - not dazzling displays of planes shooting from a point, inclined floors and whole walls of glass. Furthermore, highly educated and well-read in modern European philosophy, he was well able to defend himself at his packed juries.
During his second year, Toker attracted a small group of followers and founded a 'Progressive Architecture Movement', which produced a daring manifesto and aroused interest beyond the school by organising a leaflet attack on the famous engineer Pier Luigi Nervi. At the end of his second year, Toker and four of his followers were expelled from the school 'for jejeune theorising', but by then his work had been the subject of a one-man show at Lincoln College, and a long article illustrating three of his projects had appeared in the magazine Oxford Opinion...
Toker never completed his studies in architecture. His stay at Berkeley was short and he returned to Turkey to pursue a career in the media. He died in 1996. Of his handful of followers, two enrolled at the Architectural Association and one produced 'progressive' schemes there - one of which, a project for an office building on the old St George's Hospital site, was illustrated in Archigram 5, published in 1962.
Thereafter, the trail of 'progressive architecture' goes cold until it is picked up by Hadid and Libeskind 20 years later."