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The Serpentine gets set for summer

Nick Myall
Thursday 25 Feb 2016

The designs for the four Summer Houses to accompany this year’s BIG designed Serpentine Gallery Pavilion have been released

This year's Bjarke Ingels-designed Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in London's Kensington Gardens in the UK will be accompanied by four Summer Houses. The four structures form part of the Serpentine Gallery’s newly expanded annual architecture programme and the gallery has now unveiled the final designs. 

The structures are influenced by the existing 18th-century Neoclassical summerhouse – named Queen Caroline's Temple – that is also located in Kensington Gardens.

With a play on architecture NLÉ’s design aims to fulfil the primary function of a summer house: to be a space for shelter and relaxation. The architects have designed an "inverse replica" of the existing Queen Caroline's Temple which is made of sandstone. Rotating the interior space of the building to expose the plan of the historic structure as a void in one side of the new summer house. Also constructed out of sandstone, the design is conceived as a tribute to the original temple's "robust form, space and material, recomposed into a bold new sculptural object. By locating the Temple in the proximity of trees, we offer an extension of the space into the landscape.”

Barkow Leibinger's design responds to an 18th century structure which sat atop an artificial hill and mechanically rotated to offer 360-degree views of Hyde Park. Responding to this now-demolished structure, the firm has designed "a Summer House in-the-round" with a series of curved structural bands. "The horizontal banding recalls the layered coursing of Queen Caroline’s Temple," explains Barkow Leibinger's design description, "despite its idiosyncratic nature."

The design by Yona Friedman is a continuation of his lifelong "La Ville Spatiale" project, which envisions a large, mobile modular grid which offers space for citizens to construct their own homes in an elevated city. The summer house itself is "a ‘space-chain’ structure that constitutes a fragment of a larger grid structure," which can be disassembled and reconfigured in multiple ways.

Following his analysis of the site, Asif Khan's design for a summer house responds to the fact that architect William Kent appears to have aligned Queen Caroline's Temple to perfectly face the rising sun on March 3rd, the day of Queen Caroline's birthday. The Serpentine lake itself, he believes, may have added to this effect as "a landscape-sized mirror to reflect the sun." However, the bridge over the Serpentine, constructed in 1826, now prevents this effect. In response, Khan's summer house attempts to provide a recreation of this effect, with a polished metal floor and three aligned rooms, all enclosed by a series of timber columns which direct views out of the space.

Nick Myall

News Editor

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United Kingdom
Architecture

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