Balloon Stage

There was a special vehicle to be spotted on London’s Regent’s Canal in early 2018: A golden, inflatable boat theater. It’s called AirDraft and was designed by architects Thomas Randall-Page and Benedetta Rogers. The boat ranked first at this year’s Antepavilion – a competition that rewards experimental installations in public space.

Inflatable like an Air Mattress

Not only does the boat theater look good, it’s also cleverly designed: its golden cupola can be inflated within twelve minutes, deflating it takes half that time. Thanks to this flexibility, maneuvering under the canal’s numerous bridges is a lot easier. The two architects Randall-Page and Rogers worked on their vision for about ten weeks. The costs for the project that amounted to the surprisingly small sum of 28,000 euros proof that exceptional design doesn’t has to be expensive.

An Example for the Arts

What would a stage (on water or not) be without a good program? Not much and that’s why there’s plenty going on during the eight-day festival tour: From live concerts and poetry slams to stand-up comedy – there’s a lot of entertainment on the water. At this it was very important for the architects to provide a platform for local artists. This way, the boat is to set an example for the preservation of London’s independent art scene which is struggling to survive due to the rising rents, says Randall-Page.

All pictures: Jim Stephenson