“Whenever I draw a circle, I immediately want to step out of it,” Buckminster Fuller once said. Unfortunately, the public thought the same when the architect tried to flog them his circular houses. But if we’re not living in circles in the 21st-century, we’re increasingly finding ourselves working in them. The circle is emerging as a key modern form for office buildings and a way of organising people. Stepping out of them may no longer even be an option.
Three sculptures in a new show at the Serpentine Gallery bring this looping train of thought to mind. They’re not really sculptures, more architectural models of the headquarters of three institutions: the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in Cheltenham, funky online retailer Zappos in Las Vegas, and Apple’s new campus, currently under construction in California. Each model has been tipped on its side, to accentuate the fact they are all circular.