Why a ship?

After four years of searching and struggling without success to find somewhere to convert into a studio (an old auction house, a 19th century Morgue, a church, a slightly less-­‐inspiring ex tool hire shop) I decided to look for an alternative space. In some way or another I was determined to bypass as much as possible: the constraints, seemingly unnecessary expense and encumbrance of conventional tenancies, solicitors, surveyors, planners, local authorities etc.

I wanted to build a traditional studio in a new way -­‐ create a space with character where people would feel comfortable and inspired to do the work they came to do; a functional and focused environment without the clinical 'doctors surgery' feel that many new studios have. I knew that in today's climate providing a space like this would either require a vast throwaway investment or a new approach. I didn't have the former so I decided on the latter.

Looking initially at decommissioned cargo ships it quickly became obvious that a vessel like this would provide a large amount of space for a very reasonable price compared to a similarly sized building. If a mooring in London could be found the value of this saving would be that much greater.

I noticed the Lightship for sale while viewing a 1950's, 140ft coaster at a mooring in the river Medway in Kent. At the time I knew very little about Lightships but I was immediately taken by its visual impact and intimidating construction.

The Lightship posed a considerably more daunting task to convert than a cargo ship. Below decks there were many bulkheads, endless ducts, pipes and lifting beams, redundant machinery and the bow and stern compartments were filled with over 100m3 of spray foam (from when the ships were automated in the
1980s).

The conversion began in September 2008.

The process of turning a large floating steel structure into a studio had not been documented before and the advice from acousticians, architects and studio professionals was; don’t do it, it won’t work. Research material was non existent, I had to adapt existing studio construction principles, combining them with mechanical isolation methods used in the manufacturing industry to achieve the sound reduction required for a professional studio.

Undeterred by the sceptics, brave or insane, Lightship95 is now one of the busiest studios in London.

For more information please go to the Conversion page.

For recent sessions, equipment additions, on-­‐going construction developments, music industry articles and bands we like take a look at the blog.