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Antepavilion Commission 2018 

An annual competition to design and build an experimental structure for an evolving series of installations on public display at Hoxton Docks on the Regent’s canal at Haggerston.

Hoxton docks aerial image

Winner - Air Draft

By Thomas Randall-Page and Benedetta Rogers - April 2018

The 2018 Antepavilion, which will traveled London’s waterways in the summer, was conceived as a two-level inflatable space with a high-pressure supporting structure and low-pressure canopy resting on a historic steel barge named Ouse.

The design, which was realised with the help of structural engineers, AKT II, allowed the barge to deflate in order to fit through the many low bridges and tunnels which line London’s canal network then re-inflate creating a pop-up performance space.

Phineas Harper who chaired the jury said: “The jury were deeply impressed with the calibre and creativity of the finalists. Thomas Randall-Page and Benedetta Rogers’ winning design is exhilarating and joyful, drawing upon the work of Jeffrey Shaw and Ant Farm. The bold and experimental nature of the team’s proposed structure and the festive programme of events they envision along the length of the Regent’s Canal make it an exciting and worthy winner of the 2018 Antepavilion Commission."   

Thomas Randall-Page and Benedetta Rogers statement

"As much as canals changed London, London’s canals have changed, from conduits of industry and cargo to arteries of art, culture and leisure. Having spent her life hauling heavy loads, Ouse is in for a treat! We plan to give her a huge cargo but of something somewhat lighter, Air.

Through this proposal we pay homage to our counter-culture forebears, in particular the artist Jeffrey Shaw and the work of Ant Farm.

With a boat for a father and an air ship for a mother Air Draft is a space for relaxation and performance. Utilising her airtight hull we propose to insert a robust tethered membrane which when inflated from below produces a soft playful landscape for lounging around on. Above, a second far lighter membrane provides shelter and enclosure. 

Air Draft provides a place for guests to kick off their shoes and lounge about in playful comfort. A timber deck over the engine room extends into the inflatable, making a modest solid stage. A small wall with an attached awning contains the airlock door and fan unit. When the membranes are deflated this wall can fold down flat to the deck allowing Air Draft ample clearance under even the lowest canal bridge. 

This summer Ouse will once more traverse the Regent's Canal but this journey has a new purpose to champion experimentation and the arts. Air Draft will tour the grassroots venues, arts institutions and cultural hubs which dot the banks of the canal, highlighting their precious but fragile existence. Air Draft will partner with existing small venues, host takeover events and act as an activator and beacon. With a program of open mic, live comedy, poetry, spoken word and live art we aim to raise awareness and celebrate small scale independent venues and places of culture. 

Over a series of summer days Air Draft will be accessible to the public whilst docked at key locations along the canal. When viewed from the towpath Air Draft resembles a curiously overloaded cargo boat and once returned to Brunswick and Columbia Wharf it will add to the ensemble of playful and experimental structures which call this place their home."


Antepavilion [M] 2018

Architects, artists and designers are invited to propose a floating structure to be sited on the Regent’s canal at Columbia and Brunswick Wharf in Hackney. The platform for entries is the 62 foot motor barge, ‘Ouse’, built in 1934 for canal operators, Canal Transport Ltd for maintenance on the Leeds-Liverpool canal. Ouse is now moored alongside Columbia and Brunswick Wharf as a base for the new structure.

As with its prececessor, the concept of the floating Antepavilion is not prescribed. Entries may be purely sculptural, structural or political, or have 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 self-financing or resourced from the overall budget.

The panel of judges will be mindful of sustainability considerations and credit will be given to entries that, for example, make good use of recycled or renewable materials.

The Antepavilion commission is intended to facilitate hands-on engagement with craft and construction. It is therefore part of the brief that the winning design team will be engaged directly with the construction process in a hands-on manner. A credible realisation plan will be an essential feature of the winning proposal. Shortlisted entires will have the opportunity to develop their realisation and construction strategy with engineers from AKT II.  

Background Information

The budget for the project is £25,000 which is split into a £10,000 prize fund and £15,000 worth of materials and labour. Teams are free to subsidise their construction budgets from the prize fund if they choose. The winning team will be invited to work with the workshops, machinery and craftsmen on site at Hoxton Docks leading to the completion and installation of the finished structure by July 2018.

The Barge ‘Ouse’
Ouse is one of two boats built for Canal Transport Ltd by Harkers of Knottingley in 1934. She is 62 feet long, 14 feet 2 inches in beam and 4 feet 8 inches deep. The barge is permanently moored at Hoxton Docks on the blind (south) side of the canal and is not ordinarily accessible to the public. However, she is fitted with a diesel engine and is capable of making journeys on the Regent’s canal providing any structure built on top is low enough to fit under the canal bridges. With a taller, fixed structure the barge would be able to move only between the moorings along the towpath on the north side of the canal between Queen’s Bridge and Haggerston Bridge and the private mooring at Hoxton docks.

Hoxton Docks
Hoxton Docks is a complex of artists’ studios, workshops and events spaces. It occasionally hosts large events. The site is not open to the public except for occasional special events such as Open House.

Some further background and peripheral references
on Ouse and the Regent’s canal can be viewed here.

Ouse outline

Entry Process

Entries to the Antepavilion competition should be submitted digitally via the online entry form.

Each entry should comprise a proposal title, team or practice name and two A3 boards describing the proposed structure formatted as a single PDF document. The PDF should be named in the following format [name of proposal]_[name of practice/artist].pdf The boards themselves must be anonymous. Please do not include the names or contact details of your practice in the PDF but only as the file name and in the entry form. Entries will be considered by a cross-disciplinary jury including artists and architects to be announced shortly.

Entry requirements
Entry is open to architects, designers, artists and makers. No formal qualifications or professional registrations are necessary for entrants to the Antepavilion competition. This commission is especially suitable for practitioners at the start of their careers who are interested in hands-on involvement in the realisation of their work. The commission is open for entries from either groups or individuals.

Shiva Ltd
The Architecture Foundation
akt ii