I knew Nikolai from a distance. He was part of the artist duo Future 7 with Florian Wojnar and Future 7 worked on the relation between collector and artist. With his great name and his great moustache I guessed Nikolai would spend his days in cafés reading Raymond Roussel and drinking Sherry all day. He seemed 27,4% Austrian and 27,4% Russian.
Some years later, when Future 7 had past, we met in Brazil with Arno Brandlhuber’s nomadic architecture class. We went from Sao Paulo by bus to Angra dos Reis, where the Germans had build an atomic plant between Rio and SP in the 1970s. A dark decade for Brazil while ruled by generals. The reactor Angra 1 is situated between the beach and a mountain, which tends to slip when it is raining. The Tupinamba Indians called it ‘Itaorna’, meaning ‘rotten stone’. At the time we were there Angra 3 was in prepartion, only the German money guarantee was missing. Even the great Lula da Silva wanted the second reactor. Our interventions however caused the obstruction of Angra 3 and all other projected nuclear plants in Brazil at least until 2030. (When We Were Good)
I still don’t know if Nikolai is or was studying at Arno’s class, doing his PhD or if he just comes along from time to time to these excursions. I know that he teaches in Zurich at the ETH with Karin Sander and I know that he is very active in Berlin when it comes to city planning––he even organizes some cool club of super smart architects. On the field trip to Brazil I got to know him as very clever and elegant and judicious, so maybe 0% Austrian, 0% Russian? And funny. And he has a lovely family.
PS: The only thing which made me slightly suspicious was––Nikolai is part of the Lichtenberg-Tower-4––that he doesn’t fancy the idea of a hill with goats between the towers. Too much of an image, too much of an artist’s idea, he said. He wants another tower built out of containers (see San Gimignano), which is nice. He wants projects, research and things like that. Okay. Even so Nikolai, with the hill you are already overruled.