Emerging practice Denizen Works has won an invited competition to design a £300,000 floating church with a pop-out roof to tour the canals of London
The studio, which is working with boatbuilders Turks on the The Diocese of London-backed scheme, says the concertina-like canopy was inspired by church organ bellows and the sleeping pods in vintage VW camper vans.
The 45m² project will also act as a mobile community hub and will moor at major regeneration sites, where the Diocese aims to develop links with the communities in the London Mayor’s key Opportunity Areas.
According to the east London practice, which won the Stephen Lawrence Prize in 2014, the boat has been designed with a flexible interior allowing a range of community activities, including parent and toddler groups, supper clubs, exhibitions, live music, yoga classes, book groups and art classes.
Andrew Ingham, project architect at Denizen Works, said: ‘We have designed a boat that will provide the church with a conspicuous presence to help foster links with emerging communities along the canal network.
’The project will be a unique addition to London’s waterways and a vital community asset that will serve and delight its users.’
Hayley Harding, programme manager at The Diocese of London, said the floating church would help serve the changing and growing communities planned across the London Waterways over the next 20 to 30 years.
She added: ’Our decision to select Denizen Works to undertake this bespoke project was made due to their innovative approach. An approach that challenges how to deal with the limitations of navigating the inland waterways yet providing an interior which provides for a flexible and satisfying spatial experience.
’This was demonstrated by ideas that achieve a multi-use space that is suitable for worship but also allows for a varied programme of other uses and will serve the dynamic and changing needs of the local communities along our waterways.’
The future timescale for the project is dependent on funding.
Taking our cues from church organ bellows and the pop-up sleeping pods found in vintage VW camper vans, the concept was developed to provide a dramatic and transformative space within the confines of a barge designed to traverse the London canal network.
During its nomadic existence, the boat will alternate between two distinct characters. When navigating the waterways, the boat will be compact and low-lying, so as to pass beneath bridges. When moored, the boat will bloom into an illuminated beacon with its sculptural pop-out roof canopies. The largest canopy will provide a dramatic internal space for worship through to arts and cultural events.
The translucent bellows, crafted from sail material, will provide a soft, ambient light during the day and act as a Chinese lantern at night, creating a warm, inviting glow to passers-by and imbuing the interiors with a celestial quality.
Denizen works church interior
Location The canal system, London
Type of project Floating church and community hub
Client Diocese of London
Architect Denizen Works
Funding Diocese of London
Appointment Invited Competition
Tender date December 2016
Start on site date Subject to funding
Completion date TBC
Gross internal floor area 45m²
Form of contract and/or procurement Design and build
Total cost £300,000