Floating Cinema

Building on the resounding success of UP Projects’ pilot Floating Cinema 2011 project, Morris + Company won the Open Architecture Competition to design the next phase of the acclaimed venture, conceived to offer a permanent lifespan on the water.

Skelly & Couch’s brief was to deliver power to the Floating Cinema in a way that would allow films to be displayed (both internally and externally) with neither the limitation of being moored to a power supply nor the noise issue that comes from being powered by the boat’s engine.

The solution was to invest in a hybrid battery and engine system that allowed 3-4 hour film sessions, either on the move or without the motor on. The battery system gave the flexibility to be charged up overnight, and use of the motor to recharge the battery as needed, either when stationary or on the move. Under special circumstances, the batteries could also propel the boat silently by operating the hybrid in reverse.

Skelly & Couch conducted a successful research project aimed at powering the hybrid engine using sustainable biodiesel as opposed to regular diesel. This involved some careful design for risk mitigation, and challenged conventional wisdom, which advises against biodiesel. The Floating Cinema continues to power the boat and cinema using biodiesel, which means the energy use is effectively carbon zero. Biodiesel is also fully sustainable because the fuel is grown for use rather than depleting finite fossil fuels.

The project was commissioned by the Legacy List as part of the Bloomberg East series of artist-led programmes to animate the waterways in East London, working in partnership with the Canal and River Trust. The film-maker artist duo Somewhere (Nina Pope and Karen Guthrie) devised an ‘Extra-Ordinary’ programme of on-board screenings, quirky canal tours, talks and workshops, to widespread acclaim.