EYES ON: Serpentine Pavillion


Jean Nouvel 2010, Photo by John Offenbach (c)

This year the Serpentine Gallery commissioned French celebrity architect Jean Nouvel to design the pavilion across from the Gallery at Kensington Gardens in London. In 2000 the Gallery began the program commissioning temporary structures to be designed and implemented by well-known international architects who do not have any previous projects in England at the time of the commission.

Nouvel’s pavilion is a simple architectural feat composed of several rectilinear layers covered in a red mirrored surface. The structural component is simplified and instead, the pavilion relies heavily on the use of the intense repetition of color and the glossy reflections of the natural surroundings to achieve it’s desired effect.

How does 2010’s Nouvel design compare against previous pavilions?

SANAA 2009, Serpentine Pavilion

Last year SANAA’s reflective design was Barcelona Pavillion meets Casa de Canoas and they go on a weekend trip to Tokyo.

Being that I’m not a major Gehry fan, the 2008 Pavillion, to me, looks like an exploding wooden instrument – But hey, it’s Gehry. That’s probably just what he was going for!

2007 saw better times when Olafur Eliasson and Kjetil Thorsen took a shot at the commission and came up with an oval space resembling the exterior of a flying saucer and the interiors of a volcano. Covered in triangular panels of dark wood the pavilion featured stepped multilayered seating with a peaking oculus and a long horizontal opening guarded by millions of thin ropes that twist and turn.

KOOLHAAS 2006, Serpentine Pavilion

Perhaps it was Rem Koolhaas’s 2006 Serpentine Pavillion that inspired his outlandish 2009 Prada Transfomer implemented in Seoul, Korea immediately adjacent to the conservative Gyeonghui Palace.

Koolhaas designed a circular plexiglass exterior shell and suspended 4 art-covered panels inside through attaching them to the likes of a hot air balloon above. In 2009 his mind was still rolling as he nonchalantly proposed the project to Prada.

2009 SANAA

2008 Frank Gehry

2007 Eliasson & Thorsen

2006 Koolhas

2005 Siza & Soto de Moura

2003 Niemeyer

2002 Toyo Ito

2001 Libeskind

2000 Zaha Hadid



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