Past masters of the Pavilion have included familiar names in the western architecture circuit such as Frank Gehry (2008), Zaha Hadid (2000), Rem Koolhaas and Cecil Balmond (2006) and Toyo Ito (2002). So it was with some surprise that the news of this year's architects was received. Kazuyo Sejima & Ryue Nishizawa of Japanese firm SANAA, are little known in the western world, aside from their firm's design for the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York. Having never built anything in the UK, their Pavilion premier will also act as a right of passage into the British architecture community.
Describing their structure the architects say: "The Pavilion is floating aluminium, drifting freely between the trees like smoke. The reflective canopy undulates across the site, expanding the park and sky. Its appearance changes according to the weather, allowing it to melt into the surroundings. It works as a field of activity with no walls, allowing uninterrupted view across the park and encouraging access from all sides. It is a sheltered extension of the park where people can read, relax and enjoy lovely summer days."
As a canopy, the structure provides a variation of coverage and enclosure and appears to be consumed by the garden's foliage, illustrating a sound understanding of both the good old British weather and a desire to be at one with the surroundings by the designers.
The Serpentine Pavilion will be welcoming visitors from July 12 until October 18 2009.
Niki May Young