A mobile place for worship and community activities
RIBA National Award winner 2021
RIBA London Regional Award winner 2021
Denizen Works for Diocese of London
Contract value: undisclosed
Canals are a form of real estate that is under-used in many cities today. The Floating Church – currently moored on the River Lee Navigation canal, adjoining London’s Olympic Park – puts this infrastructure to community use. The Diocese of London intends the mobile church to serve the parishes of St Paul, Old Ford, and St Mary of Eton initially, but in future it may operate in other areas undergoing urban growth or change. A kinetic, folding roof structure can be laid flat to allow the newly built barge to pass under bridges.
The main space is small but can accommodate various activities, from church services to film screenings. The space inside the hull provides good head height, as canal boats go, with high quality finishes, well-considered built-in storage and bespoke wooden furniture. A central rooflight creates a pleasant pool of light to the main function area, which is complemented by the translucent sides of the canvas roof. At night, when the boat is lit inside, the pop-up roof acts as a beacon.
The folds of the pleated roof are picked up in zig-zag patterns on the internal window shutters and on the outside of the boat. Along with the colour scheme it lends an Art Deco character.
This is an imaginative and well-executed project; thought and care are evident in every aspect, from its construction by a traditional boat-builder to the use of the compact spaces and the accessibility of a church on water. A true community asset.