In Summer 2021, Architecture LGBT+ and the London Festival of Architecture held an Open Call competition to design a ‘Pride Pop Up’ for St Annes Church in Soho to coincide with Pride in London. A young team of architects from Foster + Partners designed the winning entry entitled, Rainbow After The Storm.
The pavilion drew parallels between the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the global HIV crisis which disproportionately affected the LGBT+ community. The design symbolised the various dissonances and synchronicities in the experiences and responses to these two health emergencies, while evoking a message of positivity and togetherness signalling the end of the fear, stigma and loneliness in times of adversity.
The pavilion featured two sinuous framed portals representing the HIV and Covid-19 pandemics. The entrances to these portals were shaped such that only one person, crouching to fit the space, could enter at a time. The journey started out as dark and slightly uncomfortable, symbolising the fear, uncertainty and isolation people have been through during the two pandemics. The portals progressively become lighter and bigger near the centre, culminating in a grand light-filled arena where people could come together, celebrating the power of the collective.
The use of the rainbow colours - representing the LGBT+ community as well as being a symbol of support for the NHS during the Covid-19 pandemic – sought to remind everyone that even after the darkest of clouds there is still beauty. The pavilion was dismantled after the event and its various elements are currently being recycled and repurposed across the Foster + Partners London campus.