The vision behind the boat
Living Architecture is an organisation which asks some of the best architects in the world to design houses that you can rent for a holiday in a variety of places around the UK.
To celebrate the Olympic year of 2012, Living Architecture decided to commission a temporary building for the capital. The one-bedroom boat, the Roi des Belges, by David Kohn Architects in collaboration with Fiona Banner was picked as the winner in an open competition run by Living Architecture and Artangel, in association with the Southbank Centre. Five hundred architects and artists from around the world submitted entries. The competition guidelines asked for a building that would allow guests to spend a truly unique night perched above the river and the judges were profoundly impressed by the imagination and skill with which the brief was interpreted by the winning team.
David Kohn and Fiona Banner drew inspiration from the riverboat, the Roi des Belges, captained by Joseph Conrad whilst in the Congo in 1890, a journey echoed in his most famous work Heart of Darkness.
Perched high above the city, this beautifully crafted space offers a unique and playful perspective on an area of London more commonly seen from river level. With an en-suite double bedroom, kitchenette, library and viewing deck, guests are invited to rest and reflect upon what they see and hear during their one night stay; logging their thoughts, observing cloud patterns, the character of the river and deeper undercurrents.
There are hints that the boat may have come from very far away, and could – once its sojourn on the Southbank Centre is finished – move off to other destinations. The boat is of no distinct era in terms of its style, neither recognisably modern nor old-fashioned. Instead, with its combination of painted wood and hand-worked gold and silver coated metals, it seems to echo the simplicity of a Japanese tea-hut or the rural haphazard quality of a midwestern farm building. On the bridge, the boat is equipped with an array of tools for recording the experience of staying there. As well as a log book to write down observations, there are guides to clouds and tides, seagulls and train-lines, London architecture and history.
A one-night stay in the room is designed as a complete break from the ordinary, a rare moment to stand aside from life and contemplate it anew with the help of a great city and a piece of architecture that stimulates and enchants all one's senses.
A ROOM FOR LONDON TEAM
· Client - Living Architecture
· Design and concept — David Kohn Architects in collaboration with Fiona Banner
· Project manager - McLennan
· Main contractor and fabricator - Millimetre Ltd
· Lift design & supply - Alimak Hek
· Quantity surveyor - Boyden Group
· Structural engineers - Price & Myers
· M & E - Max Fordham LLP
· Appliances – Miele