The 2018 Antepavilion - AirDraft
Benedetta Rogers and Thomas Randall-Page
- Original design
- Benedetta Rogers and Thomas Randall-Page, 2018
- The Antepavilion Commission, Gruff Limited, The Architecture Foundation, 2018
The 2018 programme is now past. We will be launching the 2019 programme mid-August.
Now in its second year the project set up by Antepavilion and competition sponsor Shiva Ltd with support from the Architecture Foundation offers emerging architects, artists and designers an opportunity to showcase new and innovative work within a complex and unique urban environment at Columbia and Brunswick Wharf in Hackney. The focus of years competition being the 1934 motor barge Ouse.
Architects, artists and designers were invited to propose a floating structure to be sited on the Regent’s canal at Hoxton Docks in Hackney. The platform for entries was the 62 foot motor barge, ‘Ouse’, built in 1934 for canal operators, Canal Transport Ltd for maintenance on the Leeds-Liverpool canal. Ouse is now moored alongside Hoxton Docks as a base for the new structure.
The conceptual programme for the floating Antepavilion was not prescribed. Entries could have been purely sculptural, structural, political or propose a real or notional function such as social, habitable or performance space. Proposals for public events to take place in the Antepavilion had to be resourced from the overall budget or self-supporting.
The judges were mindful of sustainability concerns and credit was given to entries that, for example, make good use of recycled or renewable materials.
The Antepavilion commission is intended to facilitate hands-on engagement with craft and construction. It is therefore part of the brief that the winning design team engage directly with the construction process in a hands-on manner. Shortlisted entires will had the opportunity to develop their realisation and construction strategy with engineers from AKTII.
The purpose of the project is to explore and encourage the range and complexity of work currently being produced across the disciplines of architecture design and fine art and particularly to support and promote the work and ideas of less established architects, emerging practices, artists or craftsmen.
The winning structure will be on display to visitors at a number of summer functions and for the annual Open House weekend.
The 2018 Antepavilion winner, which will travel London’s waterways in the summer, is conceived as a two-level inflatable space with a high-pressure supporting structure and low-pressure canopy.
The design allows the barge to deflate in order to fit through the many low bridges and tunnels which line London’s canal network then re-inflate creating a pop-up performance space.
Phineas Harper who chaired the jury said: “The jury were deeply impressed with the calibre and creativity of the finalists. Thomas Randall-Page and Benedetta Rogers’ winning design is exhilarating and joyful, drawing upon the work of Jeffrey Shaw and Ant Farm. The bold and experimental nature of the team’s proposed structure and the festive programme of events they envision along the length of the Regent’s Canal make it an exciting and worthy winner of the 2018 Antepavilion Commission.
Five finalists were shortlisted for the commission from 132 initial entries including Thomas Bates, Duman Studio, Max Dewdney Architects with No-To-Scale, and Kennedy Woods Architecture. Thomas Bates received an honorary mention from the jury who felt his proposal, Butty Boat, showed exceptional architecture judgement and a deep knowledge of craft.
Thomas Randall-Page and Benedetta Rogers statement:
"As much as canals changed London, London’s canals have changed, from conduits of industry and cargo to arteries of art, culture and leisure. Having spent her life hauling heavy loads, Ouse is in for a treat! We plan to give her a huge cargo but of something somewhat lighter, Air.
Through this proposal we pay homage to our counter-culture forebears, in particular the artist Jeffrey Shaw and the work of Ant Farm.
With a boat for a father and an air ship for a mother AirDraft is a space for relaxation and performance. Utilising her airtight hull we propose to insert a robust tethered membrane which when inflated from below produces a soft playful landscape for lounging around on. Above, a second far lighter membrane provides shelter and enclosure.
AirDraft provides a place for guests to kick off their shoes and lounge about in playful comfort. A timber deck over the engine room extends into the inflatable, making a modest solid stage. A small wall with an attached awning contains the airlock door and fan unit. When the membranes are deflated this wall can fold down flat to the deck allowing AirDraft ample clearance under even the lowest canal bridge.
This summer Ouse will once more traverse the Regent's Canal but this journey has a new purpose to champion experimentation and the arts. AirDraft will tour the grassroots venues, arts institutions and cultural hubs which dot the banks of the canal, highlighting their precious but fragile existence. AirDraft will partner with existing small venues, host takeover events and act as an activator and beacon. With a program of open mic, live comedy, poetry, spoken word and live art we aim to raise awareness and celebrate small scale independent venues and places of culture.
Over a series of summer days AirDraft will be accessible to the public whilst docked at key locations along the canal. When viewed from the towpath AirDraft resembles a curiously overloaded cargo boat and once returned to Brunswick and Columbia Wharf it will add to the ensemble of playful and experimental structures which call this place their home."