Potemkin Theatre by Maich Swift Architects – All photos by David Grandorge, courtesy of Maich Swift Architects.

London – Grigory Potemkin (1774–1791) was a Russian military leader who used to purportedly build fake villages to impress Empress Catherine II. “Potemkin generally describes a false or deceptive appearance.” Says to Archipanic Ted Swift – co-founder of Maich Swift Architects. The British studio completed the Potemkin Theatre: a three-storey structure on Regent canal in London which comes with a double role and presence.

The facade overlooking the canal frontage comes with a flat, yellow and green abstract image. “The composition and arrangement of windows and stairways is a re-imagination of Monsieur Hulot’s building in Jacques Tati’s Mon Oncle.” Adds Swift.

On the other side, the structure has been left completely open, with the balustrades for the stairs and balconies painted a bright yellow. Open galleries overlook the rooftop and surrounds. “In the future, local artists will be invited to paint the pavilion’s frontage to revitalise and renew the structure”. Theatrical productions, opera, small music concerts and film screenings will all form part of a cultural programme.

The two-sided aspect of the building aims to trigger engagement from both the canal side and the rooftop. “We were 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 space with the potential for a wide range of public events.

A laminated veneer lumber structural frame was used for the wall panels. The plywood stair balustrade and floor panels provide bracing and stiffening of structure. In a similar manner to theatre flats, the front of the structure is dressed with a canvas lining and plywood infill panels painted using linseed oil paint. Here, local artists will have the opportunity to repaint the frontage over time.

With the Potemkin Theatre project Maich & Swift Architects has won the Antepavilion annual competition and was commissioned build the structure on the site in Haggeston, London, by the Architecture Foundation,

All photos by David Grandorge – Courtesy of Maich & Swift Architects.