Antepavilion commission 2019: Open Call

Competition launched to find a designer-builder for the third Antepavilion in Hackney

The annual Antepavilion commission is an initiative to develop, construct and display experimental structures that offers emerging artists, architects and makers the opportunity to create new work within a complex urban environment. This year’s open call competition is now open for entries.

Located at Columbia and Brunswick Wharf, the two previous Antepavilion structures have joined a series of other installations that reflect the innovative and subversive spirit of the commission. This year’s winning entry by Thomas Randall-Page and Benedetta Rogers was a floating inflatable theatre named AirDraft, which travelled along the Regent’s Canal hosting a series of pop-up events during the summer.

AirDraft Antepavilion

Antepavilion 2018, AirDraft by Thomas Randall-Page and Benedetta Rogers. Photograph by Jim Stevenson

Since its inception, the Antepavilion commission has received significant press attention nationally and internationally. The inaugural winner, H-VAC by PUP Architects, which was a conceived as a micro home in an oversized air conditioning duct, was published around world from the USA to Japan.

H-VAC by PUP architects

2017 Antepavilion, H-VAC by PUP Architects. Photograph by Jim Stevenson

Brief for Antepavilion 2019 - Beacon

This year’s brief challenges entrants to propose structures for a particularly prominent site at Columbia and Brunswick Wharf – the north west roof of the largest warehouse which projects out into the Regent’s Canal adjacent to Haggerston Bridge (a grade 2 listed structure).  The new structure should take its place as a beacon of the Wharf complex and its alternative educational and experimental ethos.

The site is currently home to Flood House, a temporary structure designed by Matthew Butcher which served as a floating dwelling and a laboratory for monitoring local environmental conditions in the Thames Estuary. For 2019 the Flood House will be retired to make way for the third Antepavilion.

Site for the 2019 Antepavilion commission.

Site of 2019 Antepavilion seen from the south.

Currently, the Flood House is sitting on a load-bearing platform constructed from scaffold lattice beams with timber decking. The platform will remain on the roof and provide a base for the new Antepavilion structure (see picture). The shortlisted entries will have the opportunity to develop their realisation and construction strategy with engineers from AKT II, who will also work with the winning designers to realise the built design.

The new pavilion will sit alongside a number of other informal rooftop structures including PUP Architects’ H-VAC, a prefabricated cardboard Wikkelhouse by Dutch firm Fiction Factory, and a single-storey beach house made from recycled tetrapack.

The programme for the Antepavilion is not set. It could be a purely sculptural object, a signpost or watchtower or perform a more specific function. The site is particularly prominent and can be seen from both directions along the canal so teams might consider the sculptural opportunities which these views invite, or how the Antepavilion could have a visual presence by night.

Proposals for the competition are invited from architects, artists, designers, carpenters and makers. A hands-on engagement with the construction and craftsmanship of the pavilion is essential to the commission. It is therefore part of the brief that the winning design team will be engaged directly with the construction process. A persuasive realisation plan will also be an essential feature of the winning proposal.

Considerable importance will be attached to the contribution that the structure can make to the eclectic and disordant character of the adjacent rooftops as a test-bed for design innovation.  Proposals should also engage with the potential that the site provides for a very visible local marker, which has vantage points from both the canal and surrounding streets.


Download a roof plan, section and elevation of the 2019 Antepavilion site.


The budget for the project is £25,000 which is split into a £10,000 prize fund and £15,000 worth of materials and labour. Teams are welcome to propose putting a portion of the prize fund towards the construction budget. The winning team will be invited to work with the workshops, machinery and craftsmen on site at the Wharf, leading to the completion and installation of the finished structure by July 2019.

Process and selection

Entries to the Antepavilion competition should be submitted digitally via the online entry form.

Each entry should comprise a proposal title, team or practice name and two A3 boards describing the proposed structure formatted as a single PDF document. The PDF should be named in the following format:

[name of proposal]_[name of practice/artist].pdf

The boards themselves must be anonymous. Please do not include the names or contact details of your practice in the PDF, only as the file name and in the entry form. Entries will be considered by a cross-disciplinary jury including artists and architects to be announced shortly.

Open days

Potential entrants are invited to view the site at one of three open days:

- Saturday 12 January, 1pm - 3pm
- Friday 25 January, 12pm - 2pm
- Sunday 3 February, 11am - 1pm

Visitors should head to Columbia and Brunswick Wharf, 53 Laburnum Street, E2 8BD where there will be further directions. The roof and canal setting can also be seen from the public footpath which runs along the north side of the canal. There is no need to book a place at an open day but you should make sure you have registered interest in the commission before attending.


The deadline for entries is 9am on Monday 11 February 2019. Three to five of the entries will be selected by the panel for further development. A small bursary of £3,000 will be divided equally between the shortlisted applicants to fund the development of their final presentation. AKT II Engineering will also provide support to develop the structural and construction strategy of the shortlisted proposals in the form of one-to-one meetings with each shortlisted team.

Jury Timeframe

The competition will be judged in a two-stage jury process. A shortlist of architects will be announced at the end of February and teams will be given two weeks to develop their projects ahead of an interview stage. The interview date is Wednesday 13 March.  The winner will be announced by the end of March.

Exhibition of shortlist

The shortlisted entries will be exhibited at Columbia and Brunswick Wharf during the Antepavilion opening party.

Questions from entrants

Questions from entrants may be emailed to Answers will be posted openly on the Antepavilion and Architecture Foundation websites.

Columbia and Brunswick Wharf

Columbia and Brunswick Wharf is a complex of artists’ studios, workshops and events spaces. It occasionally hosts large events. The site is not open to the public except for occasional special events such as Open House.

Further reading

Antepavilion is currently engaged in a research project entitled Anarchitecture which is discussed here.