Take my lightning but don't steal my thunder

Project Name: Take my lightning but don't steal my thunder
Designer: Alex Chinneck
Client: Alex Chinneck
Location: Covent Garden, London

Innovative British artist Alex Chinneck, best known for creating architectural optical illusions, brought his floating house installation to Scott Fleary for Covent Garden’s famous open air market. A precise replica of a section of the 184-year-old market building, it was created to look as if its upper portion has broken away from its stone base to float in mid air. Built from a steel frame and polystyrene, the 12-metre-long structure took 500 hours to shape using digital carving techniques and was painted to replicate the appearance of the existing buildings.

The 1:1 illusion that a 40-foot-long building has broken from its stone base and floated over 10 feet into the air with apparent and astonishing weightlessness with no ties, tethers or supports visible to the public. With heritage restrictions of its famous venue, plans had to be coordinated between Capco who own and manage Covent Garden and Westminster Council for boundary and entry considerations, delivery crossing two twelve-hour shifts. More than 100 people, with 10 articulated lorries – and a police escort – were required to bring in the tonnes of steel needed to keep it upright. The installation could not drill into the piazza and the work could not over-stress the cobbles, so creative solutions had to be planned for and adjusted on site.