PolyCatOikia – A Cat Hotel for Pafos 2017

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PolyCatOikia by Gabor Stark & Emilio Koutsoftides, 2016

This summer, Emilio Koutsoftides and I participated in the Second Nature competition, organised by Pafos 2017 – European Capital of Culture. The international Open Call asked for proposals for public art and architecture installations in the Municipal Garden in the Ktima district, addressing the relationship between culture and nature. Out of 57 submissions from 16 countries our proposed cat hotel for the feline strays of Cyprus is one of seven entries selected for construction. All seven winning entries can be seen here.

Below our competition boards and an excerpt from our project description. Watch this space for more information about the realisation process.

PolyCatOikia – Unité de la Cohabitation

The installation proposes a man-made habitat for the present-day residents of the Municipal Garden in Pafos: the stray cats of Ktima. The project interprets the culture-nature relationship addressed in the SECOND NATURE brief by focusing on the human-feline cohabitation in Cyprus, an interspecies bond which can be traced back as far as the 10th millennium B.C.

The form of the white linear structure references minimal art as well as the key architectural typologies dominating the urban fabric of contemporary Pafos: the hotel complexes along the coast and the ubiquitous housing type of the Polykatoikia. From the perspective of a human visitor the perception of the object fluctuates between abstract sculpture, the scale model of a building, and a piece of public furniture. The local cats however, immediately recognize the potential of comfort, shade and shelter as well as the chance of being admired – and fed – by their human friends.

The PolyCatOikia operates like a hotel resort – only for cats. It features fourteen semi-enclosed private suites, so called Cat Flats, plus four communal restaurants, or Feeding Loggias. The complex comes all-inclusive with an open-plan ‘Bikini-Level’ on the fourth storey and a roof terrace-cum-viewing platform for the cats’ favourite activities of sunbathing, being lazy and on top of things. The modular tectonic rigour of the quasi-architectural structure is balanced by the meandering circulation system of kitten-safe ramps, bridges and balconies, allowing for manifold cat walks and choreographies. Staffed by human visitors, who come along to treat the residents to food, or to simply watch and enjoy their feline grace, the PolyCatOikia forms a cultural habitat for cat and man alike – or free after Le Corbusier: an ‘Unité de la Cohabitation’. After the end of the Pafos 2017 programme, the structure will be donated to a cat sanctuary in Cyprus.

 

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Cross and Dragoon

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The Friendly Army – WWI commemorative project at East Kent Railway

Gabor Stark & East Kent Railway Trust. Part of the DMAG Joined Up project, 2014-2016

Cross and Dragoon have now joined Tower, Receiver and Organ at East Kent Railway. Cross translates the EKR crossing signs along the tracks into three-dimensional elements. Placed beside Shepherdswell Road at the first farmers crossing after the Golgotha Tunnel, the sculpture alludes to wayside and conciliation crosses and pays tribute to the war memorials in Shepherdswell, Eythorne and other villages in East Kent.

Dragoon is inspired by the war horses that were transported on the East Kent Railway line to and from the Hammill (Woodnesborough) Colliery during World War I. Shortly after the outbreak of the war the Hammill site was taken over by a cavalry remount unit and horses were stabled in the colliery buildings before being deployed to the front. In total, more than one million British horses were sent overseas and just over 60,000 returned. Dragoon also alludes to the heraldic dragon of The Buffs Royal East Kent Regiment. Many of the fallen commemorated on the war memorials in the Dover District served with The Buffs in the First World War. Unlike the other sculptures that were permanently positioned in the landscape, Dragoon stays mobile and will explore different locations. In the moment it stands guard at the EKR entrance in Shepherdswell.

Once Pegasus, the sixth and last sculpture, is placed The Friendly Army will be complete.