2019 Antepavilion Press Release

Canalside rooftop theatre built in Haggerston by young architects.

This week sees the opening of the 2019 Antepavilion, the third of an annual series of experimental architectural structures to be built at Columbia and Brunswick Wharf in east London. Designed and built by emerging practice, Maich Swift Architects, the three storey rooftop theatre draws inspiration from the home of Monsieur Hulot in Jacques Tati’s 1958 film Mon Oncle.


The designers were chosen from 188 entries in an open architectural competition run by Shiva Ltd in collaboration with the Architecture Foundation. The competition brief called for proposals that could provide a beacon alongside the Regent’s Canal.


Titled, Potemkin Theatre, the structure was built over 25 days during June and July with the help of a team of volunteers. It employs a laminated veneer lumber structural frame and facade of painted canvas panels which reference theatre flats used in set design.


The Antepavilion will host a two month programme of performances, discussion and events taking place throughout August and September named, Beacon Festival. The festival is supported by a grant from Arts Council England and includes work by Roland Smith, Shadwell Opera, Oren Safdie and a symposium exploring the relationship between architecture and immersive performance. Architecture and design magazine, Dezeen are media partners for the festival.


The 2019 Antepavilion has been built by Maich Swift Architects with construction assistance from a team of volunteers, and technical support from AKTii engineering.





Ted Swift and Paul Maich of Maich Swift said:


“This proposal for a small theatre draws on the changing use and cultural significance of the canalside location and presents a bold face to the Regent’s Canal. On one side the canal frontage has a flat, abstract image; the composition and arrangement of windows and stairways is a reimagination of Monsieur Hulot’s building in Jacques Tati’s Mon Oncle. On the other side open galleries overlook the rooftop and surrounds. Potemkin generally describes a false or deceptive appearance; we are interested in the way it suggests the revealing of the structure behind a lively and colourful frontage.


The architectural concept has an emphasis on flexibility in use, and will provide a variety of space with the potential for a wide range of public events. The two-sided aspect lends itself to engagement from both the canal side and the rooftop. Theatrical productions, opera, small music concerts and film screenings will all form part of a cultural programme.”




Russell Gray, Director of Shiva Ltd said: "We are delighted to sponsor an initiative to encourage young and emerging architects, designers and artists with an appetite for hands-on construction, as free as possible of the oppressive web of aesthetic, regulatory and commercial constraints that govern most urban construction projects.”




Ellis Woodman, Director of The Architecture Foundation said: “Supporting emerging practices has always been central to The Architecture Foundation’s mission so we were delighted to be collaborating with Shiva to create the Antepavilion programme. The annual commission has quickly developed into a significant event in the architectural calendar and an important stepping stone for a generation of emerging architects.”


Notes to editors:



Maich Swift Architects was founded by Paul Maich and Ted Swift. The practice is committed to the successful delivery of ambitious and characterful schemes and approach each project with care and rigour. Ongoing projects include a summer house in the Gower AONB in Wales, the remodelling of a 200-year-old longhouse in the Brecon Beacons National Park, the conversion of a former winery to a guest house in rural France, several refurbishment projects in London on existing and listed buildings along with collaborations with a fashion design company, one-off furniture pieces and temporary spaces.


Shiva Ltd. is a property development company engaged in preservation and restoration of London’s historic environment. It hosts independent fabrication workshops at its London Bridge site. It promotes excellence in craftsmanship and seeks to foster appetite for sympathetic, well-thought-out design, always in high regard and sensitivity to London’s rich heritage.


The Architecture Foundation is a cultural organisation and think-tank that works to cultivate a richer conversation around built-environment issues, particularly in relation to London.  Its activities include programming public lectures and other live events, publishing in print and online platforms, developing initiatives to support young architects and lobbying on issues of public policy.


AKTii is a London-based firm of structural and civil engineering consultants founded in 1996 by Architecture Foundation Trustee, Hanif Kara, Albert Williamson-Taylor and Robin Adams.


Dezeen is one of the world’s most widely read architecture and design websites.


Press images

Further press materials including photography, architectural drawings and film footage can be downloaded using this link.


David Grandorge

Sol Caruso-Thomas