Nigel Coates (1949 – ) English architect and designer

Nigel Coates featured image
Nigel Coates featured image

Nigel Coates (1949 – ) is an architect from the United Kingdom. 


He was born and raised in Malvern, Worcestershire, and attended Hanley Castle Grammar School before attending the University of Nottingham (1968–71) and the Architectural Association (1972–74)


He co-founded Branson Coates Architecture with Doug Branson in 1985 before opening his architecture and design studio in 2006. He was a partner in the Branson Coates architecture and design studio and the founder of the radical NATO (Narrative Architecture Today, established in London in 1983) design group (established in 1985).

  • Metropol Restaurant, Tokyo designed by Nigel Coates
  • Caffe Bongo, Tokyo designed by Nigel Coates
  • Bohemia Jazz Club, Tokyo designed by Nigel Coates
  • Bohemia Jazz Club, Tokyo designed by Nigel Coates
  • Noah's Ark Hokkaido designed by Nigel Coates

Coates was instrumental in bringing a perspective that merged a sophisticated understanding of innovative architectural possibilities with a keen sense of the visual language of contemporary street culture. Through a range of projects for clubs, bars, restaurants, and retail stores, the organisations with whom he has been professionally affiliated have influenced the urban landscape.

Narrative Architecture Today (NATO)

Following his research, the theoretically educated Coates established NATO with colleagues and students, and then the Branson Coates studio. The seismic changes in British architecture that had dramatically disrupted the status quo in previous decades, such as Pop and Punk, influenced an architectural and design perspective that recognised the visual richness of street culture and the possibilities of avant-garde innovations in the fine arts and new media.

The group’s work was influenced by the power of drawing and the ability of installations to create atmosphere, resulting in dramatic creations such as the CafĂ© Bongo in Tokyo in 1986. In 1988, Branson Coates designed an interior for Katherine Hamnett’s shop on Sloane Street in London. Giant fish tanks adorned the interior walls, complemented by a replica of Surrealist artist Salvador Dali’s famous lip sofa and baroque furnishings. Other retail outlet designs include Jasper Conran in Tokyo (1989) and another in London for Jigsaw clothes (1991). The Metropole in Tokyo (1985), the Noah’s Ark restaurant in Sapporo, and the Bargo Bar in Glasgow are only a few of the company’s restaurant and bar designs (1996).

The Jazz and Metropole furniture collections debuted in 1987, followed by the Noah’s Ark series in 1988, named after Branson Coates’ cafĂ©s. The Erotic Fashion show at the Design Museum in London (1997), the state-sponsored Powerhouse: UK exhibition promoting contemporary British design in Horseguards Parade, London, and The Body Zone in the Millennium Dome, Greenwich, are among the company’s exhibition projects (2000).

  • Gallo Armchair manufactured by Poltronova (1992) designed by Nigel Coates
  • Wooden chairs designed by Nigel Coates

The striking stainless steel forms of the National Centre for Popular Music (1999, now closed) in Sheffield and the British Pavilion for Expo ’98 in Seville are two other prominent commissions. Through his teaching at the Architectural Association in London and the Royal College of Art, where he became Professor of Architecture and Interior Design in the mid-1990s, Coates has had a significant impact on architectural design education.


Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The Design Encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.

Downey, C. (1992). Neo-furniture. Rizzoli.

Papadakēs A., Broadbent, G., & Toy, M. (1992). Free spirit in architecture. Academy Editions.

Thackara, J. (1986). New British design. Thames and Hudson.

Wikipedia contributors. (2020, December 24). Nigel Coates (architect). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 01:32, May 18, 2021, from

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