Room for London

This one-bedroom temporary installation was commissioned by Living Architecture and Artangel, Two of Britain’s leading cultural organisations.

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In collaboration with artist Fiona Banner and David Kohn Architects A Room for London is an installation on the roof of the Queen Elizabeth Hall at Southbank Centre London, commissioned by Living Architecture and Artangel and created for the 2012 Olympic year.

The brief was to create a room on one of the most visible sites in the British capital, where up to two people at a time could spend a unique night in an exemplary architectural landmark. The room takes the form of a boat, which is perched on top of the Queen Elizabeth Hall roof and has extraordinary views by day and night of a London panorama that stretches from Big Ben to St Paul’s cathedral. The idea evolved from narratives of travel and displacement in literature, in particular Joseph Conrad’s novella ‘Heart of Darkness,’ a story that began beside the River Thames.

The project involved extensive workshops with the fabricators Millimetre, the design team and the client to finalise the concept and the detailed design. The site (not owned by client Living Architecture), is a major cultural centre in London and required in-depth planning with the National Theatre and the Southbank Centre to negotiate it’s delivery. The logistics included wide load transport to site, the protection of surfaces and trees and the use of a 350 tonne crane to deliver the boat into an area of high public risk, which all required a major co-ordination exercise.

Consultation and approval of the planning application and building control to Lambeth Council was also a significant part of the project that we oversaw, as was the liaison with the teams at the South Bank centre covering Health and Safety, security, disabled access and the strategy for general running and maintenance of the project.

Services provided

Support provided for commissioing architect and artist.

Managed the formal submission of the Planning Application.

Selected and briefed the required consultants to form the design team.

Tendered and appointed the contractor, the first stage of which was to work alongside the design team providing pre-construction cost and buildability advice then secondly in supporting the manufacturing and installation process. 

Managed the separate procurement of other specialist contractors e.g. cranage/transport, scaffolding, external lift.

Liased with the Southbank facilities management and Health and Safety team.

Administered the building contract to completion and handover.

Having worked with Alex previously, I knew he would be the right person to deliver this specialised ‘Room for London’ project. It required the skills and experience of project management balanced with the ‘know how’ to deliver an architecture/arts project with a number of very tricky stakeholders.

Given the project had to be delivered without question in readiness for the start of the Olympic year of 2012, and the design was not yet fully developed by mid-2011, it required the dexterity and personal skills of Alex to bring all parties together.

He managed the design and procurement process and secured the right contractor who could produce such a complex set of requirements. In addition, he had to work with the Southbank Centre to ensure the ‘Room for London’ and associated very large cranes could be brought into a very heavily populated location in central London, with many restrictions on roads and access.

Alex brought the knowledge, skill and commitment to a very difficult and taxing project, and ensured all parties were constantly kept informed. It proved to be a very successful outcome.

Mark Robinson Director Living Architecture

We worked with Alex McLennan in 2012 on A Room For London. It was an extremely positive collaboration between all parties with an exceptional result. Alex was delivery focused and proactive in his duties as PM and always maintained good working relationships.

Liz Betterton. David Kohn Architects


2011 - 2012

Project Team
Client: Living Architecture
Architect: David Kohn Architects
Artist: Fiona Banner
Structural Engineers: Price and Myers
Environmental Engineers: Max Fordham LLP
Quantity Surveyor: Boydens Group.
Contractor: Millimetre

2013 RIBA Regional Award
2012 Conde Naste Design Award
2012 Nominated for 2012 D&AD Award
2013 Designs of the Year Award

Charles Hosea, Glasshopper

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