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London’s “Floating Church” will service communities wherever it drifts


The design was based on the bellows of a church organ.

As the Church of England faces growing concerns over low Sunday service attendance, The Diocese of London has an out-of-the-box idea that could potentially draw thousands back to the pews … or at least the piers.

The architecture firm Denizen Works, along with the ship-building company Turks, won the commission for the project. Their initial renderings display a boat that features a large hall on the deck, designed to look like the bellows of a church organ. The bellows can be raised to make more room available for a packed service and lowered to allow for easier navigation when in motion.

On their website, Denizen Works describes the function of the vessel:

The bespoke floating hub has been designed to wind along the canal system, mooring at key regeneration sites, with a focus on developing links with the growing communities in the London Mayor’s key Opportunity Areas.

Aptly named the “Floating Church,” the ship’s mission will be to re-grow faithful communities in areas of London, wherever the city’s vast network of canals will allow them to dock. The hope is that once communities have grown too big for the Floating Church, they will be able to find permanent homes in one of the Church of England’s many struggling parishes.

Denizen Works said they have designed the church for more than just Sunday services. They hope it will be able to provide many of the same community activities that a local church would:

In addition to its function as a church, the boat is designed with a highly flexible and adaptable interior to accommodate a wide range of community activities including parent and toddler groups, meeting spaces, supper clubs, exhibitions, live music, yoga classes, book groups and art classes.

The bellows, Denizen Works says, will be crafted out of sail material. In the day it will soften the natural sunlight to provide soft, ambient light, but at night it will be like a Chinese lantern, with an inviting glow to attract passers-by.

Only time will tell if this new strategy will lead to a revitalization of London’s Christian community. Denizen Works say they will deliver a fully fleshed out concept by the end of 2018. If all goes well, London could see this inovative vessel floating around the city within the next 5 years.

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