2016 Serpentine Pavilion ‘Unzipped’

“….a structure that embodies multiple aspects that are often perceived as opposites…” – Bjarke Ingel


This year’s Serpentine Summer Pavilion designed by Bjarke Ingel’s firm BIG, made of interlocking fibreglass bricks, may look like a simple structure, but in fact, it is so much more than meets the eye.

Conceived from the idea of a solid wall that has been ‘unzipped’ to create a three-dimensional space – the wall of fibreglass blocks arranged in a pattern based on a common brick wall – splits to create a curved opening to the pavilion with jagged edges on both ends.  The execution of this simple idea results in a structure that is minimal, elegant, yet full of paradox on several levels.

“We have attempted to design a structure that embodies multiple aspects that are often perceived as opposites: a structure that is free-form yet rigorous, modular yet sculptural, both transparent and opaque, both solid box and blob,” said Ingels

This unzipping of the wall turns the line into a surface, transforming the wall into a space,” he added. “At the top, the wall appears like a straight line, while at the bottom, it forms a sheltered valley at the entrance of the pavilion and an undulating hillside towards the park.”




I particularly like the contradicting nature of this pavilion against its settings.  I love how the pavilion is a much taller and much more imposing structure in comparison to the existing Serpentine Gallery of which is a single storey Edwardian architecture, yet the two buildings are in perfect dialogue with each other, due to its porous nature of the stacking fibreglass panels in brick form.  The sinuous curves of the pavilion complements the soft undulating green landscape of Kensington Gardens harmoniously, so the Pavilion is indeed both a solid box and a blob, just as Ingels has intended.  What particularly impresses me are the optical illusion of speed this sinuous yet porous pavilion creates, and the refracted lights from the translucent fibreglass panels that creates a soft glow on a sunny summer day.

There is no doubt one of the most successful Serpentine Summer Pavilions I have seen in a long while…







Photographers: May Naruemannalinee and Julia Jevzikova



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