Andrew T Cross, An-Architecture.
I grab five minutes with ATC the night before Colony opens.
The vacant showroom is well lit on a dark street in central Fitzrovia. Andrew’s team have been working flat out, and it looks like they will be here all night. We’re ankle deep in wood shavings, with timber beams exploding through the floor, forming platforms to perch, converse, and encounter all manor of artistic expression over the next sixteen days.
It’s not ready, but we all know it will be. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but Shangri La is built in thirty.
How did you get here?
I studied Interior Architecture at Brighton. I designed an incredibly ugly car park in Ringwood. I decided architecture was bullshit. So I left and did loads of random stuff before studying an MA in Fine Art.
A bit like the shining, I was the only student on the course and the only one in the building. I started taking the building apart. The tutors would leave on Tuesday, come back the following week, and I would have taken out a door or a wall.
Now, I practice at a very fast pace, using architecture as a medium rather than a plan. I’m an an-architect. I’m fighting against architecture, but using it in a good way. It’s about making people realise what’s possible.
Matta-Clark is a huge influence?
I first came across him in 2001. I was blown away.
And recently talking with Attlee about what Matta-Clark was working on before he died, floating buildings and huge air balloons… having died so young there is a huge gap. His sense of optimism, that anything is possible, I’m trying to take this conversation forward in my own style.
Who else influences you?
From my education at Brighton, Cedrick Price, an architect obsessed with building a building that didn’t really function. He is known for The Aviary at London Zoo. This thing… a really big net, with a huge purpose.
The Aviary, London Zoo.
And Diller and Scofidio, who built a cloud. You put on your rain coat, walk out onto a lake, it sucks the lake up and squirts it out, you’re in this incredible environment.
Blur Building, Switzerland.
We tend to get stuck in boxes, of what buildings should be. It’s time to take it further. I’m trying to tease art out of architecture.
Ambitious builds, huge scale, is that where you’re headed?
Scale is a tricky question, core to all projects should be how people respond. With Glastonbury, it was great to see how people interact with sheet flames shooting over their heads. With Colony, in one sense it’s a functional space, with tables and a bar. In another sense it’s a platform for people to come in and do whatever they want.
What is happening at Colony?
There is so much glass frontage here, people are constantly knocking on the door, asking what’s going on. We’ve got a musical opening tomorrow night, a Rhys Chatham piece I’m really excited about. We’ve got dinner parties planned. We’ve got artists who are growing rubber trees, a delivery of five tonnes of horse manure. We’ve torn a huge hole in the floor…
What do you hope to achieve here?
For everyone who comes in to push their practice a little further. Artists are notorious for not being able to talk about what they do, and this can only come through conversation. If these conversations happen here, it would be brilliant, I would love that.
Words, Nancy Benson.