Tate Modern 2007
London, the new capital of Europe, is already a melting pot and will be more so as its influence spreads eastwards. Its complex ethnic ties and many lifestyle choices are well known. From Colombia to County, Hinglish to Hebridean, from single mothers to gay dads, the Gateway will not only be housing the ideal British nuclear family but extend to families of all kinds. In this new installation, Coates explores the potential for the Thames Gateway to embrace the many cultures of its future inhabitants.
But what will this mean for the architecture of the city? How will the Gateway appear to a million newcomers? Some 500,000 new homes are planned for the Gateway, but no agenda has been set for exploring the connection between density and diversity, accessibility and identity. Mixtacity explores an expressive architecture that emphasises difference and place. Each of its several metropolitan centres sends an assertive message up and down stream. Central Londoners will certainly have heard of Smoking Guns towers or Barking Towngate and the massive hands at the centre of Dagenhamburg which are the new symbol of the Gateway.
Like all visions of a future architecture, Mixtacity uses the illusionist
power of the model, a giant L that occupies a corner of Global Cities. Unlike most planning models which have a political and economic determinism, this one is driven by an artistic spirit. The method is freeform and collaged, and intended to stimulate individual interpretation with its apparently casual juxtapositions. But work of this kind can help give the Gateway the kind of common language needed to make it successful in the long term. Mixtacity is intended for public and policy makers alike.
The project takes in the area from Canary Wharf, past the Royal Docks to Dagenham and Rainham. Although not the entire Gateway zone, it takes in a slice through various typical conditions. Each part of the overall project responds to what is there and the role it might play in the future, and is essentially mixed by nature. Such hybrids and crossovers may not be a replacement for the historic depth of ancient urban cultures across Britain, yet they are capable of expressing the kind of complexity so often omitted from new developments.
Included in the panorama as a whole are several of Coates’ new urban typologies. These are realised as rapid prototyped models, and are layered together with everyday objects masquerading as roads and buildings. Mixtacity keys into the fascination for miniatures we preserve from childhood, but normally find so hard to apply to the daunting scale of the undeniably complicated modern and complex 21st century world.
Next: Genie Stool