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April 26 2012

Wildbirds & Peacedrums's A Room for London performance – watch online

Singer Mariam Wallentin and drummer Andreas Werliin met at Gothenburg's Academy Of Music and Drama in 2004, and married the following year. Frustrated by the institute's rigid format, the pair say that Wildbirds & Peacedrums was born of a desire to break free and play music that captures pure, ecstatic feeling.

Watch Laura Barton ask the pair more about their plans here.

An apology: tonight's live stream has been cancelled because of technical difficulties. The duo's performance is still taking place, and you'll be able to watch it on-demand on this site later in the week.

A Room for London – the one-bedroom hotel installation perched on the roof of the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London – is now sold-out to the public but is hosting a season of writing, performance and music that has been programmed by Artangel

March 23 2012

Laurie Anderson's A Room for London gig – watch live

Laurie Anderson, one of America's most renowned and daring creative pioneers, will perform a new sound piece from 5-5.40pm on Sunday 25 March 2012. You can watch the performance live online here

January 28 2012

Andrew Bird's Sounds from a Room gig: watch a live stream

Watch a live stream of American musician Andrew Bird performing at A Room for London on Saturday 28 January

January 12 2012

A high water mark: artists moor holiday houseboat on London roof

Vessel installed on top of Queen Elizabeth Hall on South Bank is open to the public for overnight stays

There are just a few things missing to complete the scene. Savage dogs, rusting engines from white vans plundered for parts, seagulls squabbling over landfill, scuffed barges laden with gravel and a backdrop peppered with indifferent high-rise housing. Add a slight scent of sewage and the 27-tonne Le Roi des Belges (King of the Belgians) might be berthed on some wind scythed stretch of the Thames Estuary far east of Tower Bridge.

The illusion, conjured on a grey and blustery January morning is not so very whimsical. Le Roi des Belges just happens to be moored on top of the brutalist Queen Elizabeth Hall between the Royal Festival Hall and the National Theatre. This, though, is no weather beaten Thames trader; it is, rather, an artwork – houseboat, too, which the public can stay in. It was designed by architect David Kohn and artist Fiona Banner, with Artangel for Living Architecture, an organisation set up by the philosopher Alain de Botton to build innovative holiday homes around the shores of Britain.

The shock, having ridden a slow and brutally utilitarian lift up through a jagged concrete interstice between the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Hayward Gallery, is to find the houseboat anchored to the vast concrete roof of the 1960s concert hall, a terrain as bleak, and as compelling, as any found downriver from Tower Bridge.

Artist and architect say they were inspired by Joseph Conrad's novel, Heart of Darkness, set on the Thames and the River Congo, and by Conrad's tales of how he steamed up the Congo in a boat of the same name in 1889. But, where Conrad experienced the all but unspeakable horror of the atrocities committed in the Congo Free State by King Alphonso II, what you see spread out before you as you board the artworld Roi des Belges, also known as A Room for London, is the most compelling, and gloriously wide-angled, panorama of central London, framed by the Palace of Westminster on the port side and St Paul's to starboard.

"The idea is that where once ships sailed out from imperial London to the rest of the world, today the world has come willingly to London," explained de Botton. "The boat is here to provoke, stimulate and adjust how people feel about London."

Two people can stay here for a single night during the course of this year. Snuggled into their cabin – complete with neat galley, dining a pair of room, bunks that can be slid together, a shower with a view of the dome of St Paul's and a library. Those stowing their jib aboard this happily unexpected houseboat, are offered shelves stacked with books on London, peerless views and the strangest sense of being marooned alone in the heart, not of darkness, but of a neon, fluorescent and sodium-lit city and with the sound of Thames water lapping the South Bank shore overlain with the noise of night buses and emergency service sirens.

A Room for London is a year-long arts venue. A programme of visiting writers includes Swedish author and cultural historian Sven Lindqvist and novelist Jeanette Winterson. Among the musicians staying on board will be Andrew Bird, the Chicago multi-instrumentalist, German composer Heiner Goebbels and Laurie Anderson. Video and installation artist, Jeremy Deller, and Talking Heads' David Byrne will also be part of the crew. Somewhere between July and December you might want to book yourself on board, too, before, Le Roi des Belges is lifted off the roof of the Queen Elizabeth Hall and packed off to her next port of cultural call.

Le Roi des Belges is the sixth of the adventurous new rental houses commissioned by Living Architecture. These include the Balancing Barn on the Suffolk coast between Aldeburgh and Walberswick by Dutch architects, MVRDV, the Shingle House on the extreme south-easterly point of England at Dungeness, by the Glaswegian team NORD Architecture, and the Dune House on the fringe of Thorpeness,Suffolk, by Norway's Jarmund/Vigsnaes architects. All are moored by the sea, yet none is as literal in form as the shipshape Roi des Belges. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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