A Room for London
A Room for London: Olympic Year 2012
It is said that the weather in London leaves something to be desired, but this seems unimaginative. Upon close inspection all manner of nuanced weathers pass over the rooftops of the city, especially during the cooler months, laying down their delicate sheens of waterborne effects. Their capture is not technically difficult, requiring little more than differentiated surfaces that attract condensation. This twist on London’s weather and its effects promote re-orientation of an occupant’s sense of the city’s visual delights in an absolutely contemporary and opportunistic mode, one that integrates our interests in the fusion of architecture, art, engineering and climatalogical concerns. Up close and personal, London’s fogs, rains, sleets, and mists produce the natural material cloak for this room and rooftop. Sunny days and moonlit nights work as well, as light passes through the transparent body to the spaces within while simultaneously reflecting outward to the city beyond. In this way, tired notions of “high season” and even “four seasons” are rendered meaningless. In our proposal for A Room For London, its surfaces and ambiance multiply such crude distinctions into dozens of microclimatic conditions, effects, and sensations. A convergence of weather, ambiance, and occupancy, this proposal inverts the typical relationship between room and city, wrapping its guests in air-filled pillows of optical wonder. Outward appearances suggest a more complex form for this room than is actually the case: a five-legged starfish of sorts, pneumatically structured, set upon a blanketed membrane of impervious plastic atop Queen Elizabeth Hall. The rooftop blanket, wrinkled in places, catches moisture in its various guises and holds it for a time, long enough for proper aesthetic contemplation, before allowing it to drain properly through existing runoff channels and infrastructure. The room itself is comprised of a rigid translucent inner shell wrapped in a pneumatic double-skinned envelope of clear plastic tubes. Each of the five “legs” corresponds to a single function – bathing, sleeping, writing, etc. – and may be filled or deflated independent of the others despite the continuity of interior space across all of them. Thus, the daily vicissitudes of internal occupation are indexed by a changing external shape as legs inflate or sag according to use. For the guest, otherwise prosaic moments of everyday life are reframed through their juxtaposition with the novel behaviors of the dynamic skin. Over its yearlong lifespan the room becomes a character in the city, its moods vaguely associated with its different postures and moves, sometimes up, sometimes down.