The third annual Antepavilion is a three-storey colourful rooftop structure designed by Maich Swift Architects that will be used as a canal-side theatre and is topped with a light beacon.
Named Potemkin Theatre, the pavilion has been built on top of a warehouse in Haggerston. It has been designed to be the backdrop to performances that will be viewed both from across the canal and on the roof of the building.
The pavilion commissioned by the Architecture Foundation, takes its name from Grigory Potemkin, an 18th-century Russian military leader who purportedly built a series of phoney villages to impress Empress Catherine II.
Maich Swift Architects took this idea of a building that is merely a facade to create a structure that has two distinct aspects.
The canal side is much more finished and complete, while the side that can be seen from the building is more open, with the pavilion’s structure visible.
“It’s named Potemkin Theatre because we are interested in the revealing of the structure behind a lively and colourful frontage, said Ted Swift, co-founder of Maich Swift Architects.
“This two-sided aspect lends itself to engagement from both the canal-side and the rooftop,” he told Dezeen.
The three-storey structure, which was constructed by a team of volunteers over a period of 25 days, is built from a series of laminated-veneer timber frames.
The canal-side facade has been clad with canvas panels to create a flat abstract form, that will act as the backdrop for performances viewed from across the water.
On the other side, the building’s structure has been left completely open, with the balustrades for the stairs and balconies painted a bright yellow.
The stairs lead up to two publicly accessible balconies on the second and third floor, while the building is topped by a red timber beacon, which will be illuminated at night.
Creating this beacon was the core of the architectural competition, but Maich Swift Architects wanted to push the brief and create a building that was active.
The design was partly focused on resolving the structural issues of creating a beacon, but also giving the building a solid use,” said Paul Maich, Maich Swift Architects’ other co-founder.
“We wanted the building to work as a functioning pavilion and not just be an object,” he told Dezeen.
Maich Swift Architects used colour on the facade to make the building immediately visible and inviting, choosing the greens and yellow after extensive testing.
“We wanted it to be lively, but not a caricature,” said Paul Maich. “There is a lot of colour so we did lots of testing as it was important that it doesn’t become a gimmick.”
In the future local artists will be invited to paint the pavilion’s frontage to revitalise and renew the structure.
The theatre will be used to host a series of events throughout the summer.
“We’ve secured an Arts Council grant to support a series of events which relate to architecture and performance arts,” explained Swift.
“Theatrical productions, opera, discussions, small music concerts and film screenings will all form part of a programme of events over the next few months and hopefully beyond that.”
The Potemkin Theatre is the third Antepavilon built on the site in Haggeston. Last year’s pavilion was an inflatable arts venue built on a barge in the canal, while the first pavilion was disguised as warehouse air duct.
Photography is by David Grandorge.
Architect: Maich Swift Architects:
Volunteers (Construction): Morgan Davies, Eunice Naddamba, Kat Bruh, Kaya Korablina, Leiah Fournier, Kristin Chan, Ebun Andu, Aya Rehman, Irene Barcarolo, Yara Samaha, Pragga Saha, Shanice Abbey, Ekta Mehta, Luke O’Donovan, Kezia Harper, David Grandorge, Alex Scally, Richard Swift, Elaine Wong, Amy Teh
Structural Engineer: AKT II
Canvas: JC Joel
Laminated veneer lumber: Metsa Spruce plywood: WISA
Linseed oil paint: Oricalcum
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