A Room for London

Key Facts:

Project summary: A temporary and mobile one-bedroom installation in the form of a riverboat on the roof of the Queen Elizabeth Hall for the 2012 Olympic Year.

Location: The Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof, London

Programme: Accommodation

Initiator: Living Architecture

Project Duration: Ongoing (Opened in January 2012)

Lead in Time: 11 months (6 weeks of off site construction, 1 day of transport and 2 days of on site works)

Site Area: 52 square meters (roof: 996 m2)

Client Team: Living Architecture, Artangel and the Southbank Centre

Project Team: David Kohn Architects with Fiona Banner

Funding Sources: Living Architecture (Arts Council England, Artangel International Circle, Special Angels and Company of Angels)

Funding Type: Private donations and Grants

Project Costs (Build): Confidential

Project Costs (Operation): Confidential


Permissions / Permits: The installation had to apply for full temporary planning permission because of its location inside a conservation area; because it was only meant to remain on site for a year and because it was ancillary to the arts and culture programme of the QEH, planning was granted.

Local Links: Southbank Centre

Publicity/advertising: The location of the project generated interest from the passerby and because of the collaboration between Living Architecture, David Kohn, Fiona Banner and Artangel the project garnered the interest of critics, artists and the general public.

Project Evaluation:

Site Details & Ownership:
The Southbank Centre is the biggest arts centre in the UK and occupies a 21-acre site on the South Bank of the Thames. The Centre houses the Royal Festival Hall, Purcell Room, The Hayward Gallery and the Queen Elizabeth Hall on which the project was installed. The proximity to the River played a major role in the design and delivery of the project.

Project Reach / Visitors / Target Audience:
The Southbank Centre is a collection of buildings that provide various artistic and creative environments for the public to visit. It is a central meeting place in London, with a mix of cafes, bars, restaurants, and acts as a cultural hub, with theatres, concert halls, cinemas and art galleries. With this in mind, the project was present to the passerby but also to the cultural visitor of the establishments. In addition, with Artangel acting as a curator, artists from around the globe became part of the project. It managed to reach a wider audience through its website which live streamed the work the artists produced on site and also projections of the performances were screened inside the QEH and the Royal Festival Hall.

Problems Encountered / Overcome:
Due to the mobile nature of the project, some design issues had to be compromised for the transportation of the structure, such as the general width of the ‘riverboat’ form.

The one-year life span of the project limited the number of occupants.

Feedback from users / staff:
The Southbank Centre did not receive any public complaints regarding the design of the Room for London or any noise or light pollution as a result of the initial run period.

“What you see spread out before you as you board the artworld Roi des Belges, also known as A Room for London, is the most compelling, and gloriously wide-angled, panorama of central London, framed by the Palace of Westminster on the port side and St Paul’s to starboard.”
Jonathan Glancey, The Guardian

What next?
The project was created to be mobile, and at the end of the year it was due to be dismantled and installed somewhere else, with discussions about a trip to Hong Kong and Portugal. However because of its success , the client has now received planning permission to be kept in place for another year.

Complementary Programmes: Studio Space and Hotel Room

Project Website / Further Info: http://www.aroomforlondon.co.uk/