The title of this is Ecstacity. Ecstacity's a term that I've used quite often - with an exhibition that you'll see later on - but also it summarises a whole strategy of work, that is the investigation of how cities can grow and continue and have a sense of the future, but without falling either into mimsi-conservationist continuation of the present nor a wholesale redevelopment. It's another way of saying 'soft planning' or the courageous adaptation of the city, as we know it, towards the future but keyed into the past. A project I did a couple of years ago at the ICA as a part of an exhibition called Metropolis was about the King's Cross area of the shunting yards behind the station and the St. Pancras Station adjacent to it. It was the time when the area was much discussed because of the Norman Foster proposals for it, and was being hotly debated in the light of how redevelopment should take place in London. Of course the enthusiasm for wholesale redevelopment has now passed pretty well. It seems inappropriate now that such homogenous office development could be seen to contribute to a city. And in a sense, what I did anticipated that. My approach was to say lets first of all consider it as a landscape, let's look at it as though it were nature, a nature indicated by decaying sidings, an overgrown canal environment. Then let's think out a purpose for this part of the city for what I call a narrative. Just like the narrative for the City of London is money and all its dealing, so the narrative for this particular bit of London would be the European Market, a connection between the UK and the rest of Europe in all sorts of forms, with exhibition halls, with special offices for European companies, with data banks, with European department stores, with part of what we understand by a free trade port - a little bit like Hong Kong. It would be an umbilical connection between the UK and Europe. But at the same time it's crucial that this development would be an integral part of the city, that it would have some of the character and scale and overlap that we associate with the centre of London in, say, Soho or Mayfair or most of the 19th century city we live in.
So what I did was to develop it a bit like a series of overlapping organs similar to those in the body. It's not one homogenous idea but a series of quotations of different kinds of landscape, different kinds of objects folding into each other. Ecstacity is somehow in this layered approach, in this idea that, rather than bulldoze the lot, then spend the next ten years building it, it would be built little by little, overlapping and influencing the actual appearance of buildings. Design as such would be more strategic, the creation of opportunities rather than design as stylisation, as design has for the most part become during the 80's and early 90's.
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