Communicating Vessels is a self-instigated, drawn and written theoretical architectural design research project, which initiated in 1998 and continues onward. The bulk of the project is positioned on an island in Britain's smallest town, Fordwich, just outside Canterbury in Kent. This is not a traditional architectural site; it is more a psychogeographical site that for Neil Spiller holds memories of childhood.
The research seeks to explore and illustrate the far-reaching effects on architecture of biotechnology, virtuality and nanotechnology, particularly in relation to the old dichotomy between architecture and landscape. Technology is allowing architects to mix and augment real spaces with virtual ones, to question the inertness of materials and, vicariously, architecture, to link and network electronically all manner of spaces and scales of phenomena together, create reflexive spatial relationships between them, and blend the organic and the inorganic. Simultaneously, the aged doctrines of Modernism are being questioned: decoration and Baroque distortion are respectable again. The 'everyday' has proved a fecund breeding ground for new ideas. Narrative is also finding its way into much architectural work. Above all, architecture's relationship with biotechnology is evolving fast.
The project re-examines traditional paradigms and elements of garden design such as the gazebo, the garden shed, walled garden, bird bath, entrance gates, riverside seats, love seats, vistas, sculptures, fountains, topiary and outside grown rooms among many other objects and spaces. It redesigns them, electronically connects them, explores their virtual and actual materiality, and their cultural and mnemonic importance, and reassesses them in the wake of the impact of advanced technology on the protocols of contemporary architectural design in the 21st century. Another preoccupation of the research project is that by looking to some of the spatial tactics of the Dadaists, Pataphysicists, Surrealists, Situationists, Oulipo and the Symbolists, we can gain an insight into new spatial arrangements for our architectures that are appropriate for our time. The research project is now over 250 drawings and thousands of words of explanation and prose.
This drawing is a quick diagram that points to the future, this involves the ubiquitous vacillating object in a landscape of smears, the evolution of smooth aesthetics in ecstatic frenzy. Embodied into it are ideas for future projects, prose and classifications as yet undrawn, unwritten and half glimpsed, a landscape of change. Work for a new millennium.