Dezeen Magazine

Heterotopia by David Kohn Architects

David Kohn Architects' design for Heterotopia, a zero carbon art garden at the Thames Gateway, has been shortlisted for the RIBA London and Arts Council England ideas competition 'Arts Space of the Future'.

The shortlisted designs will be on display at the National Theatre, 11th January - 16th February 2008, as part of an exhibition exploring the future of arts and leisure space design. The competition winners will be announced 10th January.

The following information is from David Kohn:


Heterotopia - a zero carbon art garden in the Thames Gateway

The Arts Space of the Future should be a place in which to question our everyday reality, a place once removed from contemporary metropolitan lifestyles, where other lives can be imagined and enacted. We propose a garden that sustains buildings and imaginations. Newly planted forests are coppiced to provide fuel to run new arts facilities. This in turn creates a changing network of forest clearings in which to host temporary arts events to fire imaginations.


Prior to the Industrial Revolution, the Thames Gateway was London’s pleasure ground. A plethora of pubs and teahouses served those who came in search of hunting, shooting, boating and fishing. Such escapes remained well into the C20th century when a combination of development economics, flood risks and poor transport lead to the gradual industrialisation of the area. The current redevelopment of the Gateway is an opportunity to once again shift the place’s identity to a balance between utility and pleasure.


The “white cube” gallery space continues to undergo gradual transformation. Artists and curators remain concerned with the relationship between works of art and their contexts so that environments that speak quietly of other times and uses have become intrinsic to artworks when installed. Architecture is able to communicate a relationship to memory through typology, the loose connection between buildings’ forms and their use. We propose creating an interior that is the accretion of a number of types that offer a range of spatial encounters, from the intimate to the sublime, whilst being made in a singular fashion that does not parody the cities in which these types are found.

Following the RIBA London and Arts Council England ideas competition ‘Arts Space of the Future’, the National Theatre is hosting an exhibition which will explore arts and leisure space design. A selection of top RIBA Award winning galleries, museums, performance spaces and theatres will give context to the conceptual schemes on display.

Shortlisted entries from the competition speculate on the future of cultural buildings and institutions through a selection of displays, models and articles. The winning entries will be announced at the launch party on 10 January 2008. The exhibition will be open 11 January – 16 February 2008.