After a lighthearted reveal at the end of March, it seemed like this year’s Antepavilion installation, five full-scale sharks set to be deployed on the Regent’s Canal in Hackney, London, would bring a bit of levity to an admittedly terrible year. However, ahead of the final reveal on August 21, the local Hackney Council successfully won an injunction halting the installation of SHARKS!, even though four of the five floating sharks (each equipped with speakers and capable of delivering public lectures on architecture) had already been set in place.
SHARKS! is-slash-was the fourth winner of the annual Antepavilion competition, which is run by the Architecture Foundation and Shiva Ltd. Winners are given £25,000 ($31,000) to realize their temporary installations, and this year, architect Jaimie Shorten of the London-based Barker Shorten Architects took home the gold. SHARKS!, unlike last year’s Potemkin Theatre, was designed to float in the Regent’s Canal instead of the Brunswick and Columbia Wharf in Haggerston, after the “Hackney Council’s recent decision to serve an enforcement notice against a number of structures that have been built on the canalside site including two former Antepavilions,” according to the Architecture Foundation.
With the injunction last week from the Hackney Council’s planning department, however, it looks like they’re taking things one step further. Although the Hoxton Docks has been a popular arts venue location and is owned by Shiva Ltd., the council alleged that installing the sharks would amount to a “material change of use” for the waterway, according to Dezeen.
Ellis Woodman, director of the Architecture Foundation, told The Architects’ Journal that he was surprised at the decision, given the recent public art and dance performances staged along the same stretch of docks in recent months. Potemkin Theatre also drew the ire of the council (like as it stands 27 feet tall and can be seen from down the canal) and was served with a demolition notice but remains standing.
That animosity was clearly in mind when the Architecture Foundation laid out the brief for this year’s pavilion, as their website notes: “Applicants to this year’s Antepavilion competition were invited to make proposals that referenced Hackney Council’s ongoing campaign to demolish the previous Antepavilions that have been built at Hoxton Docks.”
The Antepavilion organizers will head to London’s High Court this Friday to plead their case. In the meantime, they’re temporarily barred from erecting anything else along the docks or in the canal.