Nigel Coates
Body as a metaphor of architecture...
Fl. Z., May 29, 2015
Nigel Coates/Mixtacity_Global cities
Nigel Coates/Mixtacity_Global cities
Fl.Z: In the early 90's and later at the Venice Biennale 2000, you represented Ecstacity, a work which combines texts, photos, diagrams and graphs. Two years ago you represented the multicultural city of the London Gateway through Mixtacity, using everyday objects. How has your idea of the future city evolved in the meantime?

Nigel Coates: Between Ecstacity and Mixtacity, well of course in the title you can tell they are related: the Mixtacity is the child of Ecstacity. Ecstacity was a broad look at how we perceive cities and what we expect cities to be, and I suppose Ecstacity is the notion of city that comes to somebody who travels; travels in the mind, who travels physically, is able to put together understanding from all sorts of different places. In other words the life that you lead is your city and I don't think it matters whether you live in a city like London, which is big but it's not the world but it sort of contains the world so in a sense it's a metaphor for London; London in its kind of many cultures and many manifestations. Also there was another Ecstacity before, I first came out with the word in 1992, and I made this small exhibition at the Architecture Association for which there was... it was on the threshold of digital communications and thoughts about cyber space and the possibilities that a city could be responsive. In that first exhibit, I proposed that the existing city be added to, not substituted or taken away but added to, with a series of organic and dynamic architecture elements such as wings and pontoons and there will be crossover between the normal territories configured by land ownership and buildings, and this first version of Ecstacity became a kind of codex for the work that I then did up to the Millennium. So when I looked through the work in Venice in 2000, it was kind of looking at the architecture that had been realized in the context, in a bigger context of this outlook for cities, and from that it was possible to sight the various projects that we had done in our studio in relation to this idea of a city having a kind of reward system that you would not just expect it to work well and to give you a comfortable life and all that...but if we were to be absolutely honest about the way we live in cities, one of the reasons that one goes to live in a city is to be part of something and to be confronted with the unexpected that there's a kind of ecstatic appreciation of cities and in a way, the city stimulates us in that way and we can accept or reject it or find other forms of reward.Mixtacity was a response to a brief and the brief in that case was to express the multi-culture of London so I thought the best way to do that was to identify a part of London that was about to change and then, as it were, put the culture of London in it and express it. I used lots of found objects but there were also lots of original, new architectural ideas in it, so it was a kind of mixture. So the new architecture in a sense was carried along in the tide of the familiar, which of course fits with the things I've been talking about earlier, which is the adhesion of new ideas in architecture to those things that are familiar. 

Nigel Coates/Born and works Britain_Mixtacity 2007
Nigel Coates/Born and works Britain_Mixtacity 2007
Fl.Z: And then you wrote a Guide to Ecstacity..


Nigel Coates: Well, the Guide uses the notion of 'guide' we're all familiar with. We've all used guide books when we've been to a city that we haven't been to before. So it struck me that the guide was a useful type of book to re-work. You don't read a guide from one end to the other, normally. You use it for a kind of reward system or an access to a place you don't know that well and it seemed that was a great idea to take up in architecture. So the Guide, it has 6 chapters, it has various kinds of texts, it switches from a kind of experiential flow to a kind of analytic and factual description or pseudo-factual. It's a work of fantasy. It's a work of imagination but presented as though it were real and I think that is a useful device in architecture. We always project in architecture, we always try to imagine and at the same time pretend that it's real and if you go ahead and build it then it is real but this process of pretending that something is real as it were a refinement of that notion of projecting. That's why in this book it presents simultaneously projects that have been built with projects that have never been built but they're in the book represented as existing. I also have moved projects from one location to another, from various parts of the world and put them in particular locations in Ecstacity. I've also incorporated the work of other people, lots of other architects and in a sense it's a work of curation as well as a work of imagination. 

Nigel Coates/Mixtacity_Global cities
Nigel Coates/Mixtacity_Global cities
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