The Deniez Works studio, together with boat-builders Turks, recently won the commission to design a floating church and community centre for the Diocese Of London. It is expected to be ready by December 2018. The church-boat is expected to navigate along the city's canals and serve numerous neighbourhoods on its way.

A growing community

In particular, the focus will be on developing links with the growing communities in the London Mayor’s key Opportunity Areas. The church will aim to grow congregations in these communities with the final objective becoming permanent once a sufficient number of people are reached.

The floating church will also work as a community hub, the main reason why it will be designed with particular attention to flexibility and multi-functionality. The interior will be adaptable for many activities as parent-children groups, yoga classes, art exhibitions, concerts, or book and supper groups.

Currently, in London, there are thirty-eight Opportunity Areas, which are London’s major source of brownfield land. These areas are thought to have significant capacity for development concerning housing and commercial use and existing or potential public transport access: typically they can accommodate at least 5,000 jobs, 2,500 new homes or a combination of the two, along with other supporting facilities and infrastructure.

The Mayor of London provides encouragement, support and leadership to realise the potential of these areas, together with the boroughs and other stakeholders.

The catchy design

With the design of the boat, the Deniez Works studio took inspiration from church organ bellows, which are also very similar to the pop-up sleeping pods of vintage VW camper vans.

The result is a barge that not only is able to traverse the London canal network but it also creates an astonishing space inside it.

For the period the church will be wandering around, the boat will assume two different shapes. In order to pass below London’s bridges, it was necessary to build a compact and flatboat. However, these features are only needed to navigate the waterways.

On the other hand, when anchored, the boat will transform into a bright accordion-shaped space, thanks to a huge pop-out canopy. The canopy will provide a wide internal space adequate for worship and any other cultural event. Moreover, during the day, the translucent material of the canopy, crafted from sail material, will create a smooth and cosy light, while at night it will look more like an enormous Chinese lantern, inevitably attracting passers-by.