Five artists were asked to make work in response to the 301 “porte cocheres” populating the centre of Milton Keynes, which differentiate this town from any other in Britain. These structures, which resemble minimalist sculptures, offer temporary shelter to pedestrians crossing roads and act as markers for the grid of pedestrian routes which weave through the town.
The artists selected for this programme interrogate the interface between the built environment and its society. Many of the artists destabilise the modernist utopian aspirations that have conjoined post wars artistic genres of minimalist and formalism with their counterparts in city planning. Whilst the porte-cocheres have a practical role, they have not been constructed in relation to real need, but rather to an aesthetic rational, leaving many of the porte cocheres unused. The artists question the automatic presumption that our urban design is truly well considered and necessary, by subverting these designs and their contexts, compounding traditional distinctions between art, design and engineering.
Michael Pinsky‘ s proposal passive/active uses a pair of porte-cocheres. The right half hosts a mass of letters taken from the logos of high street stores in Milton Keynes. These companies have donated a letter from one of their illuminated logos. Merging the brands distance them from their primary function, leaving them as a semi-legible construction. The left side contains, within the same proportions as the logos, a selection of graffiti tags sourced from around Milton Keynes. The tags entwine each other forming a dense, virtually unreadable, mass of neon. The identical framing of the logos and tags strips away the context, both physical and legal, leaving the viewer to contemplate the beauty and meaning of the words, letters and fonts.
Tea Mäkipää‘s proposal Drive-in-Cathedral is the cathedral in Milton Keynes exclusively for the cars and drivers. The cathedral has the recogniseable outline shape of a cathedral. The shape is cut out of steel plates that are attached on top of several port-cocheres.
The cathedral is equipped with lights and the text ‘Drive-in-Cathedral‘. Actually it is more like a drive-through-cathedral; when one passes the cathedral at the normal speed of traffic there is little time for religious reflection.
Michel de Broin‘s proposal manipulates the scale and orientation of the porte-coheres. At the micro-level a multitude of port-cochere create enclosed volumes with their legs pointing outwards, these sit upon another reduced scale port-cochere which functions as a table or plinth which are then contained within the full size existing port-cochere.