The Oikos Project’s Jellyfish Theatre, by artists Kobberling and Kaltwasser for The Red Room, in partnership with The Architecture Foundation, has been shortlisted for the Architect’s Journal’s 2011 Small Projects awards.
This is the second year running an AF-initiated project has been considered for the awards. Last year the AF’s new HQ designed by Carmody Groarke, was shortlisted.
Winners will be announced on Wednesday 9 February.
‘Junkitecture’ is a clever term, combining design and ‘waste’. But what if the materials used for buildings, for sets, for props, for puppets, for the vehicles and floats of parades, were thought of simply as ‘materials’? Of course, they would have a special value or feel if they had been used for something else. But to call them ‘junk’ is to share the attitude that separates the ‘new’ from what we think of as ‘waste’. What is happening with the use of materials in the arts that have a history can often be more of a valorisation of consumerism and excess, a celebration of trash as ‘trash’ or salvage, than a critique of waste or an affirmation of recycling.
What if no special claims could be made for using reclaimed or recycled materials because it was commonplace? Then, what would be remarked on would be the design, the space or object itself, and the qualities that the materials brought to it.
The Jellyfish Theatre building was enchanting for its design and for its transiency, a theatre space in a symbolic shape, assembled from what was to hand, played in, and then dispersed, the theatre becoming again the material that it was, maybe to be used again, having acquired another layer of history.
A theatre hand-built entirely from salvaged material is being constructed in an abandoned playground in Southwark.
The 120-seat Jellyfish Theatre will be the venue for the Oikos Project, which aims to “explore how a new sustainable society can flourish in a world altered by climate change”. To that end, two new plays have been commissioned and will be performed this autumn: Simon Wu’s OIKOS and Kay Adshead’s Protozoa.
The idea for the project came from Topher Campbell of The Red Room, and work to build the theatre began during the London Festival of Architecture earlier this summer. Constructed from scraps begged and borrowed from building sites, struck theatrical sets, and fruit ‘n veg palettes taken from New Covent Garden Market, the theatre has taken shape slowly over the past eight weeks, with the build completed by volunteers guided by German husband-and-wife architects Martin Kaltwasser and Folke Köbberling in a vaguely improvisational manner.
It will be used to host talks and workshops before the plays begin, and the whole thing will be taken down by mid-October, leaving little in its trace. Cedric Price would have been proud.
The Jellyfish Theatre, Marlborough Playground, 11 – 25 Union Street, London SE1 1LB. For more information visit the Oikos Project website.