In a flurry of croissants, tea and a fine selection of cheeses (courtesy of sponsor Bloomberg), the competition to build the 2013 installment of the Floating Cinema series was launched by the Architecture Foundation on Tuesday. But this time around there will be a few differences.
Floating Cinema is part of UP Projects’ Portavilion series, a collection of temporary public art structures, and developed in collaboration with artist duo Somewhere (Nina Pope and Karen Guthrie). The pilot project in 2011 was a cinema-cum-boat designed by Studio Weave.
The project hosted an impressive 31 different film-related events, connected six boroughs and navigated 11 different waterways during the course of its three-month journey and welcomed over 300 people. The 2013 project aims to build on this success.
One big difference this year is the theme - last year’s being “inspiration, connection, recreation and environment”. This year they have gone with simply Extra Ordinary, which artist Karen Guthrie was keen to elaborate on:
“We want something that will evoke and embody the extraordinary, something playful and iconoclastic, stunning and strange.”
Karen then joked that she was looking at a room of architects who thought she had gone mad - let’s hope not or this doesn’t bode well for the contest.
The other key difference with this year’s Floating Cinema project is that it is to be a permanent and not a temporary feature of London’s waterways like the 2011 pilot. The vessel will need to be robust enough to withstand the rigours of canal-based life.
Initially 2013’s floating cinema will be based on the waterways connecting Tower Hamlets, Newham, Waltham Forest and Hackney – and will also tour the Olympic Park. The hope is that after the cinema finishes its London stint that it will tour the rest of the UK.
Much to the disappointment of long-legged visitors it was made official that there will be no increase in 2013 on the cosy dimensions of a traditional narrow boat. Aside from the practicalities of the vessel needing to navigate the canals and waterways comfortably, Guthrie highlighted that it was felt critical that the boat that “fits in with canal life” – in simple forms like allowing other vessels to moor alongside it so that it blends into the moorings – all of which could not be achieved by an outsized vessel.
Studio Weave’s 2011 pilot project took a former British Waterways working narrow boat and turned it into a water-borne 12-seat indoor cinema auditorium. Twelve seats are rather a feat (conquered by furniture maker Simon Jones’s bespoke flip-up seats) when you consider that the boat was 2m wide by 16m long in its entirety.
Floating Cinema 2013 will be in a two-stage format with a pre-qualification questionnaire due by 4pm on 26 June 2012 (further details to be released on floatingcinema.info). At least one Arb registered architect (or equivalent international accreditation) and UK resident per team. The project will be a short turnaround with architects being appointed in September 2012 and project completion by June 2013.
The open international competition is run in partnership with the Architecture Foundation and has been commissioned by the Legacy List and is sponsored by Bloomberg, working in partnership with the Canal and River Trust.