Outside the box SME London and De Boer tell EN about a very special VIP area On the riverbank Rosie Lamb, operations manager at SME London, and John Cochrane, De Boer sales director – events, look back on the Boat House, a structure created for VIP guests at the second BBC Countryfile Live event at Blenheim Palace. Tell us about the structure 58 Rosie: After last year’s event, Tim Etchells, our managing director, wanted to utilise the natural surroundings of Blenheim Palace as part of the enhanced ticket offer at BBC Countryfile Live. We called the concept the Boat House Club – the idea was for special guests to be a part of a members’ club, or in this case a Boat Club, as opposed to being the typical VIP experience. The idea was more playful and in keeping with the spirit of the event. The waterside at Blenheim Palace is a World Heritage Site and one of the most stunning areas at our event. So naturally we wanted to make good use of it and this made it the perfect location for our special guests. John: The spectacular grounds, landscaped by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, formed an integral part of the event. Vital to the success of the Boat House was making sure that guests could fully appreciate their surroundings, including the lake and its October 2017 | exhibitionnews.co.uk famous Vanbrugh Bridge – a central feature of the Palace’s grounds. What was the process of creating it? Rosie: What we wanted to achieve was something interesting, that gave people pleasure when sitting inside, but also looked enchanting from the river banks. The Boat House had to feel like a premium offering. I was introduced to De Boer’s Acropolis structure as I was shown a visual of what they had produced at another event – it looked stunning and totally unique. Not something you would find at every outdoor country event! We began working together closely to create the Boat House and what was a very successful final product. John: In the end the Boat House was created using six of De Boer’s Acropolis structures, which are each 100sqm hexagonal shapes. These were connected to create a single space, which was fitted out by event organisers SME London. The venue stood partially over the River Glyme and on the riverbank – creating a true boathouse feel. We also slightly modified the structures to include our special transparent roof covers ensuring a spectacular view throughout the day and especially as the sun set. We wanted to ensure that guests could appreciate the area of outstanding beauty but not feel too removed from the show’s hubbub. Why is the Boat House special? Rosie: The Boat House was special firstly, because of the location and secondly, how the structure lent itself to the location. The structure itself was beautiful and unusual. It was great to deliver something different to the typical VIP tent you often see at other outdoor events. The entire structure became a viewing platform to the River Glyme and BBC Countryfile Live, almost at 360 degrees. The Boat House was transparent, which meant you were in a bubble away from the crowds. Plus, come rain or shine, of which we had both, guests were in their own oasis by the waterside. John: The build for Countryfile Live’s Boat House did come with distinct challenges, but that’s one of De Boer’s strengths – creating splendid solutions in unusual settings. In this case, we had to build the Boat House on a considerable slope, but clever use of packing towers and scaffolding over the water ensured it was built safely and securely and in just two days. We were delighted to be offered this new challenge and ultimately seeing guests unwind and refuel for the day, while soaking up the views across the water and the surrounding show, was very satisfying indeed. EN Countryfile Live took place on 3-6 August 2017 at Blenheim Palace.