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East London’s Genesis chapel floats out to find its flock

Denizen Works’ MacEwen shortlisted Genesis floating chapel is a bold reimagining of how the church works in the community

Building Genesis floating chapel  

Location Here East, Hackney, London. 

Architect Denizen Works 

 

This floating church and community hub is designed to reach emerging communities along London’s canal network. To supply a ‘conspicuous presence’, the kinetic roof rises to flood the interior with light, and emit a warm glow at night to attract passers-by. The concertina roof will also squeeze down to pass under low canal bridges.

The judges applauded the very idea of the boat. It will be moored at a different location every five years, supported by the local parish and creating events tailored to its specific needs – a form of consultation process presaging development of a permanent, land-based building. ‘It’s a very clever reimagining how the church works in the community. It’s like a mobile library,’ said judges Sarah Harrison and Sue Stringfellow of Harrison Stringfellow. Pearman pointed out that the canal life it serves ‘is now a linear residential area’.

  • First stop for the floating chapel.
    First stop for the floating chapel. Credit: Gilbert McCarragher
  • Inside the floating chapel.
    Inside the floating chapel. Credit: Gilbert McCarragher
  • Adaptable and free of religious symbolism to encourage the widest possible use.
    Adaptable and free of religious symbolism to encourage the widest possible use. Credit: Gilbert McCarragher
  • A concertina-like lantern for a roof.
    A concertina-like lantern for a roof. Credit: Gilbert McCarragher
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Stakeholder workshops showed that the space needed to be free of religious symbolism to be welcoming to all. Community function was key so it was designed to be adaptable to accommodate a diverse programme of events. Unusually for a boat, platform lifts and a Part-M accessible WC ensure inclusivity.

Genesis is small enough that those drawn in can be noticed. It offers a space along a towpath for people to heal, talk and support one another. The form itself is a tool for engagement, drawing people into conversation.


See more MacEwen shortlisted projects here

Credits

In numbers

Construction cost £650,000 
GIA cost per m2 £14,444 
GIA  (excluding decks) 45m2

 

Client Diocese of London 
Architect Denizen Works 
Naval architect Tucker Designs 
Boatbuilder Turks Shipyard 
Interior fit-out ANR Developments 
Bellows fabrication Jeckells the Sailmakers 
Stools and tables design Plyco 
Lighting consultant Arup 
Photography Gilbert McCarragher 

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