Each June, London comes to life with an amazing programme of events and activities centered around celebrating the cities architectural excellence. London Festival of Architecture has something for everyone, from studio lates and debates to new commissions, competitions and tours and this years theme of ‘Boundaries’ got the cities creative juices flowing.
Behind the scenes at Oxo Tower Wharf, we were working on ways to animate our courtyard, the outdoor space between the main building and Bargehouse – it’s a sunny spot (on those good days) and a lovely space to sit and watch the world go by, relax at lunchtime or meet friends.
We started speaking with Jennifer, one fifth of design collective Momentto, (a group of architecture graduates who met at the University of Nottingham), back in 2018. On the lead up to LFA 2019 we worked with the group to develop their initial ideas for a site-specific installation at Oxo, and how that would respond to the theme of Boundaries.
The group took inspiration from Massimo Uberti’s architectural lighting installations and Spaces Etc. by Ron Gilad, their design highlighting three dimensional spaces through two-dimensional illusions. The installation, to be called Momentto was intended to disrupt the flow, encouraging interaction amongst passers-by and allowing people to re-assess the boundaries of their journey through the courtyard at Oxo.
To bring the concept to life, boundaries were broken and collaborations forged.
TRADA’s University Engagement Manger, Tabitha Binding joined the journey to realise Momentto, calling on Champion Timber who sponsored the installation through the generous supply of timber and fixings.
Tabitha, together with Oxo Tower Wharf’s Design Curator Sophie Cain, called on contacts and collaborators to bring the project to life, including Coin Street Community Builders, the local social enterprise that owns and manages Oxo Tower Wharf; TRADA; Champion Timber; 0-DACE and Michael Williams Designs. Support was also provided by the Bartlett School of Architecture, the Institute of Carpenters, the Building Crafts College and the Timber Trade Federation.
- Jennifer Ge, The Bartlett/UCL
- Binhan Wang, Architectural Association’s School of Architecture
- Yue Ying, University of Cambridge
- Mandy Hong, University of Nottingham
- Jiaxin Wu, University of Sheffield
Tabitha comments ‘Working with students, professionals and the timber trade, educating, enthusing and enabling people to come together to deliver fantastic projects such as Momentto’s timber pavilion, is hugely rewarding. Each person plays a part – but speaks a different language, works to different time scales and has different priorities; the challenge is to break through those barriers, remove obstacles and encourage holistic working’.
Over the month of June, the pavilion, positioned on the raised platform area in the courtyard, provided a calm space to sit or even lie down to take a break. Friends met and colleagues took their lunch breaks, we even had some fitness classes utilising the structure!
We celebrated the opening and closing of the structure with drinks receptions, with speeches from TRADA and TTF, highlighting the importance of this kind of collaborative working and also to flag the social, environmental and economic value of the use of timber in construction.
Now, the pavillion has been deconstructed but the installation is having a second life, re-worked as part of a two-week summer school ‘Performing Togetherness’ by Public Works programme School for Civic Action for students from Sweden and the UK at R-Urban Poplar.
The timber from Momentto will be used to build spatial interventions, designed to aid the performance of cooking and collective food preparation such as a ceiling of drying pasta, a perimeter of herbs, a plinth for chopping, or a tower for straining, as well as structures that create a conducive environment for the sharing of a meal. These designed elements will be developed with a series of invited guests: artists, designers, and local groups.
You can participate in ‘Performing Togetherness’ at two upcoming events:
Friday 19 July – 10.00 to 18.00 The summer workshop will be finishing with discussions, explanations and an evening meal at 5pm.
Saturday 20 July – 12.00 to 20.00 Conversing, cooking, and collaborating throughout the day and conclude with a big discursive dinner. The group will be cooking all day and food and talks will be served at around 6pm. At the end of the meal diners should be able to leave with new knowledge, new connections, new ideas, and a full belly!
Public Works, R-Urban Poplar, London, E14 0SP
Results from the summer school will contribute to a week-long School for Civic Action event at Tate Exchange from 25 – 28 July.
We believe our project for London Festival of Architecture this year really did break boundaries and we’re excited to see how far the legacy of the installation can reach.
Thank you for the Momentto team, TRADA, TTF, Champion Timber and everyone involved in the project for bringing it to life!
If you or your organisation are interested in collaborative installation projects that could suit our outdoor spaces at Oxo Tower Wharf, please get in touch for a chat – you can contact Sophie on 020 7021 1650 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Photography by Wei Sing LauReturn