The Architecture Foundation has launched an international contest for a £25,000 floating ‘Antepavilion’ at Columbia and Brunswick Wharf in Hackney, north-east London
The anonymous competition – now in its second year – invites artists, architects, designers and makers to draw up radical alternative visions for a large disused barge currently moored outside the Hoxton Docks complex on the Regent’s Canal.
The £25,000 project, backed by historic regeneration specialist Shiva, will transform the 19 metre-long 1934 vessel into a floating ‘Antepavilion’ with its new function – which could be anything from sculptural to residential – to be decided by the winning team. The call for entries comes four months after the winner of the inaugural commission, PUP Architects completed a habitable space disguised as an air vent on the Hoxton Docks rooftop.
According to the brief: ‘The conceptual programme for the floating Antepavilion is not prescribed. Entries may be 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 will need to be resourced from the overall budget or self-supporting.
‘The judges will be mindful of sustainability concerns and credit will be given to entries that, for example, make good use of recycled or renewable materials.’
The two-storey Columbia Wharf and its neighbour Brunswick Wharf were originally home to the Gas Light and Coke Company, but were transformed into artist studios almost 20 years ago and are now known as Hoxton Docks. The two buildings, at 53-55 Laburnum Street, overlook Haggerston Baths and BDP’s 2008 Bridge Academy.
Artists based inside the Columbia and Brunswick Wharf complex include sculptor Owen Bullett, Dutch artist Magali Reus and 2016 Turner Prize winner Helen Marten.
The disused barge, named Ouse, was one of two vessels created for Canal Transport in 1934 and is equipped with a diesel engine and rudder. The boat is moored outside Hoxton Docks on the south side of the canal opposite the tow path.
PUP Architects won this year’s inaugural Antepavilion commission with ‘H-VAC’ – a micro-dwelling camouflaged as mechanical plant clad in reversible Tetra Pak shingles.
The latest call for submissions seeks innovative visions to transform the historic working barge which is currently permanently moored at Hoxton Docks. Proposals should take account of canal bridges when proposing taller structures which may limit the boat’s movement along the network.
Anonymous applications should include two A3-sized boards. Judges include Mary Duggan, founder of Mary Duggan Architects; writer and curator Emily King; Theo Molloy of PUP Architects; Beth Hughes, head of Architecture at the Royal College of Art; and Shiva founder Russell Gray. Site tours will be held on 16 December, 9 January and 4 February.
Up to five shortlisted teams will each receive a share of a £3,000 fund and work with structural engineer AKT II to develop their scheme’s realisation and construction strategy during the competition’s second phase.
The overall winner will receive a £10,000 prize fund along with £15,000 worth of materials and labour to deliver their scheme.
The deadline for applications is 28 February.
How to apply
Visit the competition website for more information
55 Laburnum Street
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7378 0707
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7378 0404
Q+A: Russell Gray, managing director Shiva
Why are your holding a contest for a floating Antepavilion?
By making the second Antepavilion commission a marine version there is an opportunity to introduce significantly different design possibilities and challenges to last year’s. It was always our intention to try to avoid a repetitive competition. The canalside location of Hoxton Docks and our Company’s involvement in a couple of marine projects made a water-based Antepavilion an obvious option for impressing the hallmark of diversity with the second commission.
The commission is for a construction for its own sake (or whatever other temporary objective applicants may want to pursue through its implementation). As such, the wider and more diverse the participation the better the it meets its objectives.
What is your vision for this year’s Antepavilion?
By utilising Ouse, a historic working barge, as the platform for Antepavilion(M) various new elements arise as inspirations: movement along the canal with greater potential interaction with the public by repositioning, marine construction methods and materials and historic, heritage and marine-engineering considerations. The brief, like last year but this time even more so, is as broad as possible; anything goes as long as you can build it. Again like last year, sustainability will be a plus in entries but being PC or cliched-sustainable will not.
What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?
The commission is emphatically open not just to architects but also to artists, designers and makers of all kinds. We don’t expect the great and the good of the architectural establishment will be applying in their droves - nor the art establishment of that matter. So yes of course new, emerging and undiscovered talents are most likely to be attracted to the challenge - and are enthusiastically welcomed.
If the commission brings fame or media exposure it will be all to the good but an absolutely core objective is for the winner to experience the satisfaction and frustrations of hands-on construction.
Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?
I would like to see the Hoxton Docks site as an exemplar of organic development and as a counterpoint to the kind of monolithic housing developments that have been encouraged to render the London canalsides antiseptic over the last couple of decades. That may spawn opportunities for other designers on other projects but it only drives the Antepavilion very indirectly.
Are there any floating pavilion projects you have been impressed by?
No. But that is possibly only because of my lack of architectural erudition.