architect_ Duggan Morris Architects
boat builder_ Turks Boatyard
location_ London, United Kingdom
construction year_2013
photography_ Duggan Morris Architects
from the architects_

In June 2012, UP Projects launched an open international design competition, in partnership with the Architecture Foundation, to select a new practice to design the new Floating Cinema that would launch during summer 2013. Duggan Morris Architects won the competition to design a floating cinema for London’s waterways. The project was conceived and commissioned by UP Projects, a public arts organisation based in East London, and is supported by The Legacy List, the independent charity for the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, and their corporate partner Bloomberg as part of Bloomberg East in partnership with Canal & River Trust. Duggan Morris Architect’s proposal ‘A Strange Cargo of Extra-Ordinary Objects’ was developed to produce a robust and practical, as well as highly inventive and imaginative, response to the brief. Building on the resounding success of the pilot Floating Cinema 2011 project, designed by Studio Weave, UP Projects are continuing to work with film-maker artist duo Somewhere (Nina Pope and Karen Guthrie), who will be devising an ‘Extra-Ordinary’ programme of on-board screenings, quirky canal tours, talks and workshops for the new Floating Cinema, which will launch in June 2013. The artists and project team felt that Duggan Morris’s proposal offered design solutions that embody the new 2013 programme theme of ‘Extra-Ordinary’, offering delight and playfulness as well as being robust and serviceable for a permanent lifespan on the water.



In exploring London’s Waterway Network we have spoken with historians, enthusiasts and manufacturers to build up an extensive knowledge of the Lea Valley. London’s Waterways offer a unique means of accessing the capital’s extensive parks and public spaces. Integration of the Olympic Park with the communities surrounding it is a key step in ensuring the sustainable legacy of the games. We proposed that the floating cinema advocates films as a ‘precious cargo’ that might connect communities and utilice the waterways to encourage discourse between people and places through the Lea Valley and beyond. The dynamic and flexible means of projecting from the boat means that a multitude of locations and settings can be utilised to screen not just larger or well known films but films that are made by local people and/or engage with local conditions.


The Lea Valley: A Landscape of Juxtapositions capturing a Spirit of ‘Place’

The Lea Valley has perhaps the greatest untold industrial history in the world. Centuries of pioneering invention, development and production mean that the area can lay claim to over 100 industrial ‘firsts’. Previously animated by pioneering ship building, development in aviation, railway construction, the processing of chemicals and food, agriculture and electronic innovation, it is surely the specific conditions offered by the natural resources of the valley, its environment and its connectivity to the Thames and beyond that was the impetus for the rich cultural and industrial legacy of the area. Though much quieter today, the waterways that connect these landscapes will forever be associated with the transportation of goods, people and ideas through, in to and out of the Lea Valley. The waterways are therefore a fundamental part of the capital’s history and identity. It is the precise composition of flowing waterways, open marshland and remnants of heavy industry that gives the area its unique and unmistakable sense of place.


London’s Inland Waterway Network: A lifeline to the capital.

The canal network was once a life-line of the capital, an amazing network that delivered mysterious cargoes to or from wharves that lined the canals and their various basins. The East India Dock, located at the base of the River lea, was the first port of call for tea, spices, precious gems and all manor of exotic cargoes that were imported from around the world, loaded onto barges and distributed across the capital and beyond. Likewise the products of ingenuity and creativity that were invented and crafted in the Lea Valley were transported to their eventual destinations using the áreas network of waterways.


The Build

The Floating Cinema was built by Turks Boatyard, Chatham with marine engineering support by Tucker Design. An hybrid engine has been supplied by Hybrid Marine, allowing a combination of diesel and electric propulsion that will be powered using bio-fuel. A high end audio system has been designed and installed by The Useful Arts Organisation.


Courtesy of Duggan Morris Architects.