Over the past 15 years the Serpentine Pavilion has become an international site for architectural experimentation, presenting inspirational temporary structures by some of the world’s greatest architects. Each summer the building has also set the scene for a number of exclusive events – and this year will be no exception.
A much-anticipated landmark in London each summer, the Pavilion is one of the top-ten most visited architectural and design exhibitions in the world. This year’s design is by Spanish architects SelgasCano.
The award-winning studio, headed by José Selgas and Lucía Cano, is the first Spanish architecture practice to be asked to design the temporary Pavilion on the Serpentine’s lawn in London’s Kensington Gardens.
In keeping with the criteria of the scheme, this will be the studio’s first new structure in the UK. The design render shows an amorphous, double-skinned, polygonal structure consisting of panels of a translucent, multi-coloured fabric membrane (ETFE) woven through and wrapped in webbing.
Visitors will be able to enter and exit the Pavilion at a number of different points, passing through a ‘secret corridor’ between the outer and inner layer of the structure and into the Pavilion’s brilliant, stained glass-effect interior.
SelgasCano’s design follows Smiljan Radić’s Pavilion in 2014, which was likened by many to a spaceship resting on Neolithic stones. Previous architects include Sou Fujimoto, 2013; Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei, 2012; Frank Gehry, 2008; Rem Koolhaas and Cecil Balmond, with Arup, 2006; Oscar Niemeyer, 2003; Daniel Libeskind with Arup, 2001; and Zaha Hadid, who designed the inaugural Pavilion in 2000.
The architects describe their design: “When the Serpentine invited us to design the Pavilion, we began to think about what the structure needed to provide and what materials should be used in a Royal Park in London. These questions, mixed with our own architectural interests and the knowledge that the design needs to connect with nature and feel part of the landscape, provided us with a concept based on pure visitor experience. We sought a way to allow the public to experience architecture through simple elements: structure, light, transparency, shadows, lightness, form, sensitivity, change, surprise, colour and materials. We have therefore designed a Pavilion which incorporates all of these elements. The spatial qualities of the Pavilion only unfold when accessing the structure and being immersed within it. Each entrance allows for a specific journey through the space, characterised by colour, light and irregular shapes with surprising volumes. This is accomplished by creating a double-layered shell, made of opaque and translucent fluorine-based plastic (ETFE) in a variety of colours. At the heart of the Pavilion is an open space for gathering as well as a café. We are also very much aware of the Pavilion’s anniversary in our design for the 15th annual commission. The structure therefore had to be – without resembling previous Pavilions – a tribute to them all and a homage to all the stories told within those designs.”
We look forward to seeing the brand new Pavilion in all its glory when it opens on 25th June – it’s an unforgettable setting for those looking to host an event with a unique London backdrop.