A Room for London by David Kohn
and Fiona Banner


A Room for London by David Kohn and Fiona Banner

London studio David Kohn Architects and artist Fiona Banner have won the A Room For London competition to design a temporary one-bedroom apartment on top of London's Southbank Centre.

A Room for London by David Kohn and Fiona Banner

The winning design resembles a boat beached on the roof of the Queen Elizabeth Hall.

A Room for London by David Kohn and Fiona Banner

A Room for London was a design competition instigated by Living Architecture and arts organisation Artangel, as part of London 2012 Festival, to create a room for two people to spend the night on a visible site or building in London. Visitors will be able to stay in the room during 2012 and bookings can be made from 8 September this year.

Images are courtesy of David Kohn Architects and Fiona Banner.

See also: Skyroom by David Kohn Architects.

All our stories on the Living Architecture project »

Here's some more information about the project:

David Kohn Architects and artist Fiona Banner have been selected to design A Room for London, a temporary installation that will sit on top of the Queen Elizabeth Hall at Southbank Centre, London and be part of the London 2012 Festival.

The design competition for A Room for London, which attracted entries from around 500 architects and artists from across the world, was instigated by Living Architecture, and Artangel, in association with Southbank Centre. The brief was to create a room on one of the most visible sites in the British capital, where up to two people at a time could spend a unique night in an exemplary architectural landmark.

Kohn and Banner’s winning design is for a boat which, perched on the Queen Elizabeth Hall roof, will appear to have come to rest there, grounded, perhaps, from the retreating waters of the Thames below. From the lower and upper ‘decks’ of this beautifully crafted timber structure, there will be extraordinary views of a London panorama that stretches from Big Ben to St Paul's cathedral.

On arrival 'aboard', a nautical flag will be raised to signal occupation, with the visitors invited to fill in a logbook on the 'bridge' of the boat, detailing what they have experienced during their stay, out of the window as much as within themselves. This is contemporary architecture at its most playful, beguiling and thought-provoking.

Alongside public booking, the Room will play host to a guest programme of special visitors – artists, writers and cultural commentators of all kinds. These ‘thinkers-in-residence’ will be invited to stay and encouraged to muse on the city at a moment in time, through writing, image-making, online postings or live webcasts from the Room itself as their own idiosyncratic entries in the logbook. Some contributions will be instantly experienced by the public; others developed slowly during the course of the year. All visitors will be offered a chance to share experiences of a night in the Room.

Bookings for A Room for London - for no more than one night - will be available through the website from 1 January – 31 December 2012 with advance bookings going live on the website from 8 September 2011.

A Room for London is a cultural collaboration between Living Architecture and Artangel in association with Southbank Centre and the London 2012 Festival. The London 2012 Festival is the finale of the Cultural Olympiad. It will be a 12-week UK-wide cultural celebration from 21 June 2012 that brings leading artists from all over the world together to celebrate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games through dance, music, theatre, the visual arts, film and digital innovation.

See also:


Skyroom by
David Kohn Architects
Studio East by
Carmody Groarke
Nomiya temporary restaurant by Pascal Grasso

Posted on Tuesday February 8th 2011 at 1:08 pm by Catherine Warmann. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Able Seaman Staines

    What a brilliant design. The use of the boat as a motif adjacent to a river is an incredible imaginative leap.

  • Interiors?

  • Steve Samuels

    They could have just avoided wasting 500 architect's time and written to a selection of contemporary artists asking if they were interested, since thats clearly what clinched it.

  • felix

    a brief for a temporary building gives amazing opportunities for unusual structures and materials, which this project completely ignores!

    they should have given it to someone like EXYST

    the south bank is the heart of mainstream modern art, how can you put something like this in it?

  • felix

    *heart of mainstream modern art in london i mean!

  • Steve Samuels

    "From the lower and upper ‘decks’ of this beautifully crafted timber structure"

    You cannot say something is "beautifully crafted" if it hasn't been built or even detailed yet.

  • brooks

    Like much of modern art unfortunately today,
    beyond a cursory glance past its incredibly literal forms,
    it has little to say.

    And hardly inviting as a hotel room for the night.

    Really lousy.

  • James

    I'm with everyone else here, this is pretty weak. Experientially it would be kinda boring and it's really not very exciting from the street either.

    The 'reason' for it's being a boat is that it's near the Thames?

  • lez

    Seriously, architecture competitions are becoming a joke!

  • xungila

    living architecture is just loosing credibility ….
    creating a competition,
    receiving more than 500 entries,
    and choose this ….
    please save our time …..

  • nomad

    the design is a spectacle which got it noticed. the narrative talks about the experience and ephemerality of the nature of the hotel. which probably appealed to the judges and got chosen. The design does not live up to the narrative and like any piece of 'art' is left to the viewer to decide what is good or bad. i must say im not a fan of the design but alot of the other entries I have seen were not that great either and did not hit on the temporary nature of the 'hotel room'

  • felix

    found the other entries here: http://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/8609776.articl
    most of these make me ashamed to be a british architect

    • bill

      Wow, it's so weird how weak these entries are. Really strange… I was quite excited about this competition. I thought it would unearth some serious up-and-coming talent. David Kohn is a good architect and all, but I thought at this stage of his career he would be focusing on larger scale comissions. A project like this is going to be a loss-leader for even a small studio.

  • debbie

    what an eyesore, doesn't work with the surroundings at all, particularly in such a recognisable area. i usually like fiona banner's work but i'm already not looking forward to going past that on the bus every day! also why are the renderings so awful? cartoons on grainy low quality images?..

  • SNP

    Yes time to move on and tackle something worthwhile – maybe the strong winds will deal with this one! 500 entries incredible……sad really!

  • brooks

    This hardly speaks to the temporary nature of a hotel room in any meaningful way. The pre-fab/de-mountable nature called for by the competition is also not evident, along with the already mentioned lack of innovation in materials fit for a structure in 2012.

    If you're going to put a boat on the roof, at least make it a beautiful one-this looks like a badly designed tacky tour boat circa 1975! Recall the story of the Ark-something-anything but this.

    What a missed opportunity for London.

  • nots

    Does anybody know who the jurors were?

  • Patrick

    To me the boat looks like it is sailing towards the edge of the world, rather than something grounded via the lowering of the thames water level. The concept is a little to overt, simplified and weakly justified but the actual design is not visually unappealing. I agree completely that the prefab/temporary nature has not been fully explored; although it may be the article does not actually explain many of the principles behind this. Also given the quality of the other competition entries I think this is actually one of the stronger designs; many of the others are fairly miserable; the kind of design and presentational quality expected from a second year architecture student.

  • Valeria

    I agree with most of the reviews…pretty awful and nothing to say that isn't obvious. I did see two other entries that had some beautifully poetic ideas about our place in the universe and our effect on the city…and were more subtle and nuanced. They also at least made you want to spend a night above the city looking at the stars–this just makes you think you are going to topple into a bad animated film. Really a sad comment on the future of design and architecture in an amazing city known for forward thinking.

  • alex

    An architect designed this?!