Narrative Architecture

Nigel Coates

Nigel Coates, Caffè Bongo, Tokyo, 1988. Graphite, acrylic and oil pastel on paper, 420 × 590 mm. © Nigel Coates.

Executed after it opened, this drawing captures the intended vibrancy of one of my first built projects, a café tacked onto the front of a department store in downtown Shibuya. The architectural bricolage of the built space translated well into the mixed media technique of splurged acrylic paint, caked-on oil pastel and heavy pencil. At the time these techniques were more akin to fine art practice than to the orthogonal geometrics of conventional architectural drawing. The project itself freely mixes classical references like the giant column and the aircraft wing with accumulated waste that was built into the rear walls. The space was Piranesian but the storytelling and detail was more Mad Max.

Nigel Coates spoke on ‘Narrative Architecture’ as part of Design Directions, at the Design Museum, London, in 2017.