A colourful, amorphous chrysalis

Kerry Boettcher
27 Mar 2015

Serpentine reveals this year’s London Serpentine Pavilion designed by SelgasCano

The designs for the 15th annual Serpentine Pavilion in Hyde Park, London, released this week, have certainly drawn mixed reactions. Basically, you’ll either love it or hate it. The whimsical design was conjured up by Spanish architecture firm SelgasCano and comprises an amorphous, double-skinned polygonal structure consisting of panels of a translucent, multi-coloured fabric membrane woven through and wrapped in webbing. 

There are a number of different access points for visitors, leading them into a ‘secret corridor’ between the outer and inner layer into the Pavilion’s brilliant, stained glass-effect interior. 

Serpentine Galleries Director, Julia Peyton-Jones and Co-director Hans Ulrich Obrist said: “We are proud to work with SelgasCano in this, the 15th year of a commission unique in the western world that continues to showcase some of the boldest and innovative designs in contemporary architecture internationally. In keeping with their reputation for playful designs and bold use of colour, SelgasCano’s structure will be an extraordinary chrysalis-like structure, as organic as the surrounding gardens. We can’t wait to go inside to experience the light diffused through the coloured panels like stained glass windows. It will be a place for people to meet, to have coffee and to experience the live events we put on throughout the summer.”

First launched in 2000, the annual Serpentine Pavilion has had many prominent architects to its name, including Zaha Hadid, Oscar Niemeyer, Rem Koolhaas, Cecil Balmond, Frank Gehry and Jean Nouvel. Its unique designs have ranged from floating aluminium clouds to Zen gardens, to shell-like structures. 

SelgasCano describe their contribution: “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.”

Between July and September the pavilion will become a stage for the Serpentine’s Park Nights, where poetry, music, film, literature and art will come together in a celebration of culture. 

The WAN Temporary Spaces 2015 Award is now open for entries. 


Kerry Boettcher

News Editor

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