Wednesday, August 8, 2007


Mixtacity, a commissioned installation by Nigel Coates, which explores the Thames Gateway's (an area stretching 40 miles eastwards down both sides of the River Thames) 'potential to accomodate the complex range of cultures, ethnic ties and lifestyle choices of its future inhabitants' (Global Cities), which is currently displayed at the Global Cities exhibition.

Displayed in a giant 'L', the model, the project is driven by artistic spirit and a sense of playfulness whilst looking to raise some serious issues - 160,000 new homes are planned for this area, how will change the architecture of the city and how can one area accomodate some many different people and lifestyles. The model is built from biscuits, razor blades, minature tvs, sweets and various other bric-a-brac to illustrate Coates vision for the area - an exotic terrain where difference and individuality is purposefully expressed. From a purely aesthetic point of view, this was a creative and truely individual response to the problem, and I really liked the choice of mixed media to reflect an area that accomodates the diversity of London's inhabitants.

Interestingly, Zaha Hadid offers a polar opposite answer to the problem - her scheme proposed a series of individual buildings that forms one unbroken wave, so essentially one building that covers the whole of the gateway area. Very futuristic, visually stunning but it's practicality is arguable. However, seeing these two very different responses is an interesting experience and one that raises a question the Global Cities exhibition looks to answer - can design improve our cities and if so, how?

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