A Floating Cinema for the Olympics


Photo: The Floating Cinema by Studio Weave for Portavilion 2011

Every Olympic celebration has an artistic component and London's 2012 Olympics are starting off early with theirs. They are pushing out the boat with a floating cinema.

To be designed by award-winning architects Studio Weave, it will be a barge that will meander through the canals of the five Olympic host boroughs in East London, showing movies along the way.


Photo: Studio Weave, The Longest Bench close-up, Littlehampton 2010 Image courtesy Studio Weave
Studio Weave is the small architectural firm that has been chosen to create the barge. They have been designing quirky and interesting buildings on the water for a few years now. TreeHugger has featured their colourful,and long, bench, located along the beach in West Sussex. Created out of thousands of slats made of reclaimed tropical hardwood, the bench dips down and around and onto the beach at different points.

Now to make the barge, they are planning to repair an old trip boat that had been used for cruises. The cover/roof will be a soft structure made by sail makers with a screen print on it to look catchy and flamboyant. The interior will have curtains designed by a textile designer and a furniture designer will create the cinema seats which will be tricky since it is a tight space. After the summer, the boat will return to its original use as a trip boat.

The artists that will animate the activities of the barge as it makes its way around the canals of east London are Nina Pope and Karen Guthrie (known as Somewhere). On-board film screenings, larger outdoor film events, ecology lectures and tours, link ups with a local museum and screenings on architectural backdrops along the canal route are all part of the fun planned for this summer.

This is not the first Portavilion. That was back in 2008, in 4 locations in public parks. Last year's was a mobile inflatable pavillion that toured 13 different London parks, presenting cultural events. But it's the first water-bound one and should be a special challenge for its creators.


Photo: Spontaneous City in the Tree of Heaven by London Fieldworks, Cremorne Gardens Lots Road, Chelsea, July 2010

It was all developed by UpProjects: a spunky little arts group that has been doing great work... Serena Korda's dust bricks are courtesy of this group as are the wonderful bird houses that have been sculpted and placed in trees in a London neighbourhood. To everyone's great delight, they have just received arts funding from the Arts Council, at a time when many other groups have been cut. We look forward to more surprises from them in the future.

The other part of this cultural maze is the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and their public art programme that is a cultural lead-up to the Olympics. Called Inside Out, it funds programmes that link up the artists with the communities along the route of the Games. It kicked off with last year's Memory Marathon, a walk and video interview of people along the route of the Olympic marathon.

More on Olympic Art
Memory Marathon is Start of Olympics
Have a Seat on Britain's Longest Bench
Find the Portavilion in Your Park
'Spontaneous City' of Birdhouses Springs Up in London