A family of six ‘leaping and lunging’ sharks has won the Architecture Foundation’s 2020 Antepavilion contest for a £25,000 floating installation in Hackney, north-east London
The winning proposal by architect Jaimie Shorten was inspired by Oxford’s iconic Headington Shark, which was the subject of a long-running planning dispute.
The sharks, to be installed in the canal outside Columbia and Brunswick Wharf, will feature audio equipment allowing them to sing lectures on architecture and urbanism.
They can also be reconfigured to mimic a variety of well-known arrangements such as Théodore Gerricault’s The Raft of the Medusa or a ‘social distancing’-type scenario. The Headington Shark, installed in 1986, was the subject of a lengthy removal campaign by Oxford City Council but was eventually saved by the Department of the Environment, which concluded ‘the shark is not in harmony with its surroundings, but then it is not intended to be in harmony with them’.
The anonymous competition – now in its fourth year – invited radical visions for a new structure to stand on a series of interlocking NATO steel pontoons outside the Grade II-listed Hoxton Docks complex on the Regent’s Canal.
This year’s competition, backed by historic regeneration specialist Shiva, sought to raise debate over the ‘authoritarian’ nature of planning decisions following an attempt by Hackney Council to have the first and third Antepavilion structures – by PUP Architects and Maich Swift Architects respectively – removed from the roof of the warehouse.
Also on the shortlist for this year’s Antepavilion was a floating bridge by Brussels and Basel-based Studio Emile, a community garden by emerging practice Sticks and Stones, a waterborne roofscape by bvlt of Brussels and a teahouse by Akasaki Verhoeven.
The Headington Shark, Oxford
Source: Image by Temporalata
Judges included Andy Groarke of Carmody Groarke Architects; Bushra Mohamed of David Kohn Architects; Shiva founder Russell Gray; Madeline Kessler, Unscene Architecture co-founder and co-curator of the British Pavilion at the 2020 Venice Biennale; Gerry O’Brien of AKTii; Antepavilion 2019 winner Ted Swift of Maich Swift; and Architecture Foundation director Ellis Woodman.
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.
The five shortlisted teams each received a £600 honorarium and worked with structural engineer AKT II to develop a construction strategy during the competition’s second phase. A total of 135 applications were received to the competition.
Shorten will now receive £10,000 along with £15,000 worth of materials and labour to deliver his scheme, which is expected to be constructed in the autumn if public health conditions allow.
WINNER: Sharks! by Jaimie Shorten
Winner: Sharks! by Jaimie Shorten
The Headington Shark (proper name Untitled 1986) made a famous case in planning decisions and precedent. The appeal decision that allowed it to be (eventually) retained included this: ‘the shark is not in harmony with its surroundings, but then it is not intended to be in harmony with them’. This proposal has several sharks on a raft. The compositional arrangement of the sharks follows that of The Raft of the Medusa by Théodore Géricault (1791–1824). They will sing Charles Trenet’s La Mer, in harmony and in French, as a poignant reflection on the UK leaving the EU:
Au ciel d’été,
Confond, ses blancs moutons
Avec les anges si purs.La mer,
Additionally, each of the six sharks will give a lecture on important themes in contemporary architecture and urbanism.
Bridge Over Troubled Water by Studio Emile
Shortlisted: Bridge Over Troubled Water by Studio Emile
Our proposal tries to link two sides and enter into a discussion. The pavilion takes its shapes from seven pontoons. Placed in a line, they create a long pier on which we can walk, sit and stay. With the movement of two hinges, the pavilion expands and retracts teasing both sides of the canal, bridging across to attract passersby. A canopy, spanning in between the steel structure unfolds as the elements move in different positions creating a covered Piazza over the water. The long pier should become a place of contemplation, discussion and a pavilion for distraction. Studio Emile is Barbara Thüler, Charles Bédin and Elseline Bazin.
Hortus Conclusus by Sticks and Stones (Becky Chipkin and Jack Swanson)
Shortlisted: Hortus Conclusus by Sticks and Stones (Becky Chipkin and Jack Swanson)
The project proposes a new floating community garden on the Regent’s Canal. The walled garden (Hortus Conclusus) provides intimacy and shelter for the activities within whilst allowing partial openness - the wall itself is raised delicately on masonry plinths offering glimpses of the garden from outside. The wall acts as a kind of ‘billboard’ to the transient joggers, walkers and cyclists along the canal. The project is intended to be built and run with genuine community participation from local residents.
sur les tois by bvlt
sur les tois by bvlt
The London Borough of Hackney’s Council issued in 2019 an enforcement notice requiring the removal of the well-known Antepavillion rooftop structures, as well additional gravitating elements of the Wharves. ‘Unacceptable by virtue of their size, location and design’, the Council furthermore describes the structures as ‘incongruous’ forms of development which adversely affects the character, appearance and architectural integrity of the host building and the conservation area. Between rebellion and coalition, disharmony and unity, opposition and integration, sur les toits inserts itself as the story’s iconic protagonist. Silent yet telling, the symbolic proposal escapes the enforcement claims and instead emblematically embodies Antepavillion’s spirit; sur les toits (on roofs) is no more than, yet above all, an-architectural claim.
Tea House by Akasaki Verhoeven
Shortlisted: Tea House by Akasaki Verhoeven
Modularity is found in the 1:2 ratio of the pontoons, a ratio required for the traditional tea room Tatami-mat which is fundamental to tea drinking in Japan. The Tea House floats detached from the mainland, circumferencing a pool of water which motivates its introversive nature and beckons fluid circulation around the pavilion.The roof opening allows the presence of English rain to be felt inside, while lounging on recycled chip foam. The chains dangle from the edges of the gutters, appearing as a light and ornamental fabric, but function as guides to carry down drops of rain from the steel gutters to the canal.