Floating pavillion deflates to fit under bridges of London’s canals

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Antepavilion is an annual competition that gives young creatives, designers, and architects the chance to design a pavilion to be installed as a public sculpture in a prominent spot on a rooftop at Hoxton Docks, a complex of artists’ studios in London. The past winners include Wikkelhouse, a ready-made home that we previously covered here.

This year, Antepavilion 2 has a secured a more adventurous location — an 62 foot long barge by the name of Ouse. Ouse was built back in 1932 and is normally moored at Hoxton Docks. However, it sports a diesel engine and can freely make a journey up and down the Regent Canal. The proposed designs for this year had to fit on the barge, but also be able to pass under the bridges of the canal, to make the floating pavilion possible.

The winning design was devised by Thomas Randall-Page and Benedetta Rogers. Randall-Page has a portfolio that includes many pavilions, shelters, and temporary structures, so he is well-versed in the requirements of such designs. The inflatable pavilion, dubbed Air Draft is a cheerful yellow breath of fresh air, pardon the pun. Its form instantly reminded me of Indonesian klotok river boats, except that, instead of a rigid wooden structure, it is topped by a light, inflatable cover, which can deflate to fit underneath the canal’s bridges. Its lightness is a suitably tongue-in-cheek antithesis to the normal heavy barge cargo. Inside, the base is also an inflatable surface, a bouncy hang-out space that increases in height towards the back, like a joyful mini-amphitheatre. An uncomplicated design proposal that is sure to bring out the inner child in visitors of all ages.

Thomas Randall-Page and Benedetta Rogers will receive £25,000, which includes the build and a prize, and will be assisted with the realisation of their concept by craftsmen at Hoxton Docks. Londoners, keep a look out for a chance to ride the floating vessel after July.