Nigel Coates on a life in architecture.
Play • 1 hr 15 min

Nigel Coates is a hugely influential architect, designer, artist and educator. He first came to widespread attention as a teacher at the Architectural Association in the early 80s when he co-founded NATO, a radical architecture collective that published a series of magazines with a unique perspective on the city.

Later, he co-founded the practice, Branson Coates, and created buildings and interiors across the globe from Caffe Bongo in Japan to the National Centre for Popular Music in Sheffield. He has also designed a slew of products for the likes of Fornasetti and GTV as well as exhibitions, such as Ecstacity and Mixtacity at Tate Modern. 

Importantly, he did much of this while being head of architecture at the Royal College of Art. 

He has just published an intriguing – and occasionally quite racy – memoir. It’s a book that charts the changes in architecture in general, and London in particular. There are tales of extraordinary projects, of club culture and parties, of friendships and loves, and of lives sadly lost.

In this episode we talk about: his early life in Malvern and his difficult relationship with his parents; his love of Italy; teaching at the Architectural Association and the creation of NATO; working in Japan and, finally, building in the UK; his role in controversial projects such as the National Centre for Popular Music and the Millennium Dome; the problem with developer-led London; regrets about about not building more; being queer and ‘the unspoken conformity of architecture’; and missing his great friend Zaha Hadid. 

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