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Festival Boats

A safe informal design for socially distanced events. We looked to imagine a way to define multiple spaces for groups and individuals to enjoy outdoor cinema, theatre performance or concerts.

  • Type Leisure

The opportunity to create a new experience in its own right

People made extraordinary sacrifices during the covid lockdowns, with many aspects of our cultural lives effectively closed for months. As a greater proportion of the population gained some immunity from either exposure or vaccination, and as restrictions partially succeeded in limiting infections, attention shifted to how the activities people craved might be re-started in a safe way.

This puzzle calls for design solutions across many walks of life. A particular case in point is the entertainment sector, where in principle outdoor events can be both fun and safe, but only if designed well.

Adaptations of crowd-oriented events to social distancing requirements have yielded a range solutions. From scaffold boxes in the Newcastle’s Gosforth Park, to a grid of white circles in Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto , to the Flaming Lips concert, where both performers and the audience came together in individual plastic bubbles.

MOST’s solution aims beyond simply providing shows and concerts in safety. Rather we seize the opportunity to create a new experience in its own right; one that is fun and convenient at once, even magical and poetic, with an appeal beyond the pandemic.

Aimed for an outdoor cinema, theatre performance, lecture or concert, we looked to imagine a way to define multiple spaces for groups and individuals that could create a powerful environment when seen together as well as a special placement for each unit.

Boats, perhaps especially in the twilight and beyond, have always been a source of eerie and romantic wonder, clearly bringing their [passengers] together in a sense of safety, closeness and endeavour. Moreover, approached by guiding lanterns, lit by fairy lights, and forming a flotilla on a sea of grass, they generate surreality, comedy, adventure, while posing stark questions about unity and separation.

All that is achieved with ample practicality – easy scaling for audience size, allowing different group sizes, tables for food and drink, space for personal storage, straightforward table-waiting, and bespoke solutions for disabled participants. And all with simple technological solutions and set-up and set-down, suited to limited production budgets.

Festival Boats
Festival Boats in plan