Rooftop hangar by TDO provides launchpad
for James Bridle's surveillance balloon

| 1 comment

Artist James Bridle has teamed up with architecture studio TDO to build a rooftop hangar on a south London car park, from which a military surveillance balloon makes a daily flight to snoop on the area (+ movie).

The Right To Flight at Bold Tendencies Peckham Car Park by TDO Architecture and James Bridle

Loaded with an assortment of cameras, transmitters and tracking devices, the balloon monitors its surroundings, but instead of feeding information to a private organisation, the findings are shared with the public over the internet.

The Right To Flight at Bold Tendencies Peckham Car Park by TDO Architecture and James Bridle



"It feels like surveillance footage, but what I'm trying to do with the project is open that up and give it to all people," explained James Bridle, whose work regularly explores alternative applications of technology.

The Right To Flight at Bold Tendencies Peckham Car Park by TDO Architecture and James Bridle

Named The Right to Flight, the project takes place on the rooftop of a disused multi-storey car park in Peckham, better known as the summertime venue of Frank's Cafe.

The Right To Flight at Bold Tendencies Peckham Car Park by TDO Architecture and James Bridle

Here, Bridle worked with south London studio TDO to design a trio of cylindrical structures, providing a technical workshop, a public exhibition space and a rooftop hangar from which the inflatable will be launched.

The Right To Flight at Bold Tendencies Peckham Car Park by TDO Architecture and James Bridle

Delivered with help from structural engineer Lyons O'Niell, these structures are clad with corrugated metal, referencing industrial warehouses, aircraft hangars and various temporary structures.

The Right To Flight at Bold Tendencies Peckham Car Park by TDO Architecture and James Bridle

"Inspired by James' work and his interests in appropriating existing technologies, we investigated how to achieve large and quickly deployable structures from which a balloon could be launched," explained Doug Hodgson, one of TDO's three co-founders.

The Right To Flight at Bold Tendencies Peckham Car Park by TDO Architecture and James Bridle

The three cylinders frame a outdoor platform, where visitors can observe the launches whilst also taking in the London skyline.

The Right To Flight at Bold Tendencies Peckham Car Park by TDO Architecture and James Bridle

"It's a really key part of the project that these structures feel very open and very accessible to people," said Bridle.

The Right To Flight at Bold Tendencies Peckham Car Park by TDO Architecture and James Bridle

Over the course of the installation, which runs from June until September, the balloon will be launched daily with different types of electronic cargo and the public will be able to make their own suggestions.

The Right To Flight at Bold Tendencies Peckham Car Park by TDO Architecture and James Bridle

Examples include an aerial camera, which Bridle is using to develop a series of abstract films. There is also a hacked Wi-Fi router, a darknet message board and a ham radio transmitter.

The Right To Flight at Bold Tendencies Peckham Car Park by TDO Architecture and James Bridle

The artist named the project after a quote from 19th-century photographer and balloonist Nadar, who proclaimed that mankind had a right, even a duty, to ascend to the heavens, and who became the first person in history to produce aerial photography.

The Right To Flight at Bold Tendencies Peckham Car Park by TDO Architecture and James Bridle

"The Right to Flight will investigate ways to return the powers of surveillance and omniscience to the surveilled, and attempt to rediscover Nadar's utopias in the possibilities of contemporary technologies, while making its own claim on London's increasingly crowded skyline," he said.

The Right To Flight at Bold Tendencies Peckham Car Park by TDO Architecture and James Bridle

The installation is open until 21 September as part of the Bold Tendencies art programme.

The Right To Flight at Bold Tendencies Peckham Car Park by TDO Architecture and James Bridle

Photography and movie are by Ben Blossom.

The Right To Flight at Bold Tendencies Peckham Car Park by TDO Architecture and James Bridle
Site plan - click for larger image
The Right To Flight at Bold Tendencies Peckham Car Park by TDO Architecture and James Bridle
Floor plan - click for larger image
The Right To Flight at Bold Tendencies Peckham Car Park by TDO Architecture and James Bridle
Building sections - click for larger image
The Right To Flight at Bold Tendencies Peckham Car Park by TDO Architecture and James Bridle
Balloon trajectory diagram - click for larger image
  • Felix

    “Here, Bridle worked with south London studio TDO to design a trio of cylindrical structures.” Trying not to sound negative, but its three galvanised corrugated water storage tanks, minus the liners? And a very cool balloon and some simple modifications. Oh, and some OSB and sandbags.