Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park: Human Animal Machine

A workshop to revive the history behind Carpenters Lock in Queen Elisabeth Olympic Park, London

We were invited by curator Moira Lascelles to design and run an event that would interpret and animate the sculpture ‘Newton’s Cottage’ in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Newton’s Cottage was designed by the art/architecture collective Observatorium. It echoes the form of the lock keepers cottage that once sat at Carpenter’s Road Lock, a historically significant lock over the River Lea located in the heart of the Park. The artwork and associated events aimed to engage a wide variety of people who visit the park with the themes and narratives of this historically significant site.

The narratives designed around the activities on the site revealed that the canal systems in London rely on many things – humans, animals, and machines – all of which can be linked together by the use of rope.

They conceived an event with three activities: firstly rope making led by expert rope makers Des & Liz Pawson; secondly knot tying in a variety of colourful materials; and thirdly they designed and made a life size wire horse that represented the shire horses that used to tow barges on the canals.

Visitors were invited to tie their ropes and knots onto the horse so that it transformed over the duration of the 4-hour Saturday afternoon event.

Initiated by MA Narrative Environments i.c.w. Moira Lascelles, Curator of the Newton’s Cottage, designed by Observatorium.


  • Concept
  • Design
  • Project Management