The ‘Rainbow After the Storm’ pavilion was the winning installation in the London Festival of Architecture and Architecture LGBT+’s Pride Pop-Up competition.

Located in the gardens of St Anne’s Church in Soho, in September 2021, the pop-up installation celebrated diversity and pride, while showcasing the role that design can play within the public realm.

The pavilion symbolised the various dissonances and synchronicities in the experiences and responses to two health emergencies – the HIV/AIDS epidemic and Covid-19 pandemic – while delivering a message of positivity and togetherness. It signalled the end of fear, stigma and loneliness in times of adversity.

The project was planned and managed by a team of young architects at Foster + Partners. The integrated team worked together with an incredible energy, to build the vibrant rainbow-coloured structure, which was made from timber and coloured rope. Challenged with time and budget constraints, they managed to overcome every obstacle with creative thinking and innovative solutions.

The Foster + Partners Lighting Team was tasked with integrating lighting into this dynamic, temporary structure. Various strategies for installing the lights were considered during the planning stage, but once on site it quickly became apparent that the lighting effect could be optimised, to maximise the illumination of the colourful ropes. The installation came to life after dark, in a riot of colour.

A quick and simple mounting method was devised using spare lengths of rope, in conjunction with off-the-shelf plastic drainpipe and pipe clamps. These were fashioned into makeshift luminaire brackets by a team of volunteers. Using refurbished light fittings, on loan from a generous supplier, the entire installation had a connected load of just 100 Watts.

In keeping with the principles of the circular economy, social inclusivity and environmental sustainability, a design competition was subsequently launched to reuse all of the pavilion’s materials and components.

The opportunity to physically work together and be part of such a creative process was a privilege and inspiration, in parallel with what the pavilion represented. This temporary structure has been a colourful symbol of light and hope for a post pandemic future.

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