Rise and Fall

A programmable, movable, interactive event surface.

London, UK
Sector: Cultural
Client: King's Cross Development
Project Status: Competition

An outside event space is a rarity. We are concerned with comfort above all, and yet we embrace the outdoors whenever it is available to us. But we can also dress for the elements and enjoy outside experiences- in fact it’s in our make up. So why not make a unique outside space to be used year round.

The idea for an adaptable surface came from the history of the site. The gasholders are an ever changing landscape in the city, rising and falling as a measure of the gas consumed in the city. Our aim was to reconfigure this movement to create a changing and programmable surface that can be used in a large number of ways.

We proposed a surface that is broken down into a number of individual smaller elements that can rise above, or fall below, the ground level, using computer programmed motorisation (scissor or hydraulic) in the basement machine room. By changing and adapting this surface we can create spaces ranging from auditoria to playspace, climbing space to café at the switch of a button.

Viewing the surface reconfiguring itself for the next activity will be part of the experience of visiting the space. There are endless permutations for use. For the school kids, it could be a huge pixilated 3 dimensional puzzle controlled from within the school on their computers, a rounders field, running track, dodgeball, frisbee, or general games area, as well as used as outdoor classrooms, theatre and event spaces.

At night, the transformation with lighting to a completely different kind of experience with intimate recitals, concerts, or meetings. In the winter, an icerink, playspace, meeting space, new year’s eve event space. In the summer, a restaurant, concert, wedding venue, picnic space, climbing, adventure and play surface, a space for talks, film screenings, theatre and fashion events are all possible. All these configurations have a view to the canal and the park beyond, with the magical city backdrop.

In the basement, surrounded by and looking into the extraordinary equipment that would be required for this to work, is an indoor event space called the Machine Room. This could be used as a nightclub, event space, for presentations, a bar. I can be subdivided into different areas with separate entrances from above. Toilets, a kitchen and storage are all provided in this space below ground. We propose the landscape around the Gasholder should exaggerate the differences between the connecting parkland and the void that is Rise and Fall, almost as a surprise. 

Gianni Botsford


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