AOC wins Lift New Parliament architecture competition

Lift, London International Festival of Theatre, and The Architecture Foundation announce the winning design of the Lift New Parliament a transportable meeting and performance space, which will open at the Lift Festival in London in 2008. The structure, designed by up-and-coming architectural practice AOC with engineers Momentum and Mark Prizeman, was selected by a jury from four anonymous short-listed designs that were put to the public to have their say in an online vote.

Conceived as a building like no other, the Lift New Parliament will be a meeting place that hosts performances, ceremonies, forums, talks, workshops, virtual conferences, installations, and exhibitions by day. By night, it is a beacon, an after dark installation, transmitting sound and image, radio broadcasts, films and documentation of the day’s activities, communicating messages of its activities through theatre and the web.

AOC’s design takes the archetypal form of a tent as its starting point, creating a flexible membrane structure. This recognizable and inherently flexible form allows for additional structures to be introduced within it, making it an evolving and playful space adaptable to the myriad functions that the Lift New Parliament engenders. The structure will utilize simple, proven and traditionally collaborative technology for erection, ventilation and cooling.

AOC’s approach achieves both a strong, memorable form and a design which can develop with the close involvement of its future users, which was a central requirement of the brief.

The winning design was selected by the jury from four shortlisted entries (AOC with Momentum, Blee & Tite, Wong-Wai Pui with Arup, muf architecture/art with Atelier One). All four designs were presented online during the week of June 24-30, and the public was invited to vote for their favourite, the result of which counted as one of eight votes cast by the jury. In addition, evaluation of the four designs by a community panel was reported to the jury following presentations by the design teams to representatives of east London boroughs facilitated by The Glass-House Community Led Design.

The four shortlisted schemes were selected from 56 entries submitted by teams of architects and designers from the UK and Europe. These entries were received in response to an international design competition for the Lift New Parliament, launched by Lift and The Architecture Foundation in May 2006.

Angharard Wynne-Jones, Director of Lift and member of the Lift New Parliament jury, commented: “The entire process of selecting the design team for the creation of the Lift New Parliament has been extraordinary. We have been buoyed by the enthusiastic response of the architectural and design community to truly open up the design process to public participation and engagement. The jury felt that AOC was the most open to participation and consultation processes and that their initial concept design was delightfully iconic and achievable.”

Rowan Moore, Director of The Architecture Foundation and chair of the Lift New Parliament jury, added on the winning design: “AOC’s project stood out for the way in which it addressed in particular the need for a design that could evolve in response to Lift’s participatory processes. We could see how it could develop over time as different people make different contributions to it. We also felt it would be both beautiful and practical.”

Geoff Shearcroft of AOC said: “We’re delighted. This is exactly the type of project we established AOC to do: to explore the potential for people – for all of us – to engage with the design, creation and day-to-day adaptation of the buildings and spaces we use and live in. It is a fantastic opportunity to make a beautiful public building with a client, Lift, who is clearly committed to a collaborative and rigorous design conversation.”

The public and local community’s contribution to the selection of the winning design team starts a two year process of participation in making the Lift New Parliament a reality in developing the building and deciding what happens inside this new cultural space. Central to the ethos of the Lift New Parliament is the involvement of a wide and growing range of people in its creation, themes, management, organization, programs and protocols.

Once built, the new structure will be the centrepiece of the Lift Festival in 2008 which opens in Newham, east London for 10 days, before moving to the South Bank Centre. After the Festival, it will travel nationally and internationally, hosting a program of performances, debates, ceremonies and installations.