Architecture

Floating church pops its top in a London canal

Floating church pops its top i...
Genesis' eye-catching pop-top roof is inspired by organ bellows and is operated by hydraulic rams
Genesis' eye-catching pop-top roof is inspired by organ bellows and is operated by hydraulic rams
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Genesis was commissioned by the Diocese of London and will initially serve the two existing parishes of St Paul Old Ford and St Mary of Eton in the Stepney Episcopal Area
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Genesis was commissioned by the Diocese of London and will initially serve the two existing parishes of St Paul Old Ford and St Mary of Eton in the Stepney Episcopal Area
Genesis will remain in place for up to five years before traveling along the canal to serve another community
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Genesis will remain in place for up to five years before traveling along the canal to serve another community
Genesis, shown with the pop-top roof in the lowered position, allowing it to pass beneath bridges
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Genesis, shown with the pop-top roof in the lowered position, allowing it to pass beneath bridges
Genesis' pop-top roof is made with sailcloth and is lined with LED lighting, allowing it to glow pleasantly at night
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Genesis' pop-top roof is made with sailcloth and is lined with LED lighting, allowing it to glow pleasantly at night
Genesis is topped by a large skylight, helping fill the interior with daylight
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Genesis is topped by a large skylight, helping fill the interior with daylight
Genesis' interior decor incorporates a splash of nautical design with marine-style bulkhead lighting
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Genesis' interior decor incorporates a splash of nautical design with marine-style bulkhead lighting
Genesis features a collapsible altar that's shaped like the prow of a boat
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Genesis features a collapsible altar that's shaped like the prow of a boat
The interior of Genesis includes collapsible tables to allow the space to be used for events, as well as religious services
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The interior of Genesis includes collapsible tables to allow the space to be used for events, as well as religious services
Genesis' eye-catching pop-top roof is inspired by organ bellows and is operated by hydraulic rams
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Genesis' eye-catching pop-top roof is inspired by organ bellows and is operated by hydraulic rams
View gallery - 9 images

Denizen Works recently completed an unorthodox but very well executed floating church in London, England. The project brings to mind an old pop-top VW bus and is defined by a novel roof that can be lowered or raised depending on requirements.

Named Genesis after the first book of the Bible, the floating place of worship is based on a new wide-beam canal boat designed by naval architect Tucker Designs and built by Turks Shipyard. It's currently moored at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, where it will remain for up to five years, before traveling along the canal to other communities. Crucial to this plan is the eye-catching roof, which is actually inspired by organ bellows and will provide the freedom to move along the canal to another location and pass beneath any bridges.

"Denizen Works' innovative design features a kinetic roof inspired by organ bellows," explains the firm. "It has been crafted from concertinaed, translucent sailcloth, and is lined with LED lights and powered by hydraulic rams. When fully raised, the roof will transform the barge from compact and low-lying, allowing it to pass beneath bridges, expanding into an illuminated beacon designed to capture attention and attract footfall to the mission. Operated by the touch of a button, in its raised position it increases the head height of the barge to 3.6 m [11.8 ft] at its highest point, creating a dramatic interior which is accessible to all."

Genesis is topped by a large skylight, helping fill the interior with daylight
Genesis is topped by a large skylight, helping fill the interior with daylight

The project has a total length of 8.5 m (27 ft) and its interior has a floorspace of 60 sq m (645 sq ft). Access is gained from midship and nearby lies the main assembly space, which has a capacity of up to 60 people. An office, kitchen, and toilet are situated towards the rear.

The interior decor is clean and simple, with light plywood walls and green linoleum floor. Bulkhead lighting adds a marine-style feel and built-in benches run along the wall. Collapsible tables are installed for hosting events and an altar designed by Denizen Works features an angled front like the prow of a ship and can be folded down and stored if not in use.

Genesis will initially serve the two existing parishes of St Paul Old Ford and St Mary of Eton in the Stepney Episcopal Area, though will also be available for private hire and for use by schools. It was built to a budget of £650,000 (roughly US$850,000).

Source: Denizen Works

View gallery - 9 images
3 comments
David V
It's a nice concept - for a church or for anything. The folding alter is very nice, the central skylight beautiful. A fairly pricey project though. Seems longer than 8,5m. Not sure I'm like to be there with 60 people crowded in. That seems very optimistic. Still, nice job done by the designer.
Nelson Hyde Chick
The most useless use of a structure is to use it for a church. This thing could, be used as a schoolhouse, but instead it is being wasted on the God simple.
bkwanab
Okay camper. lousy church. Didn't anyone tell them there are no Gods? They are a figment of human imagination. Religion is the longest running confidence trick on the planet. Just because some people like to consider themselves special, i.e. chosen ones, does not mean they are any better than anyone else. Religious 'leaders' are just power greedy people that want to tell everyone else how they should live. Elected leaders that create laws may also be power greedy but being elected they can be replaced.