PolyCatOikia – PAFOS 2017
Gabor Stark, senior lecturer at UCA Canterbury School of Architecture and alumnus Emilio Koutsoftides completed their public sculpture-cum-cat shelter in Cyprus. The project is one of seven entries selected in an international open call for PAFOS 2017 European Capital of Culture. The competition brief asked for public art and architecture installations in the Municipal Garden in the Ktima district.
Gabor and Emilio proposed a man-made habitat for the stray cats of Pafos. Their project interprets the culture-nature relationship addressed in the open call 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 structure references minimal art as well as the key architectural typologies dominating the urban fabric of 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 meandering circulation system of kitten-safe ramps, bridges and balconies, allows 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.
Together with the other six installations the object will stay in the public park for the duration of the PAFOS 2017 European Capital of Culture programme.