The new Serpentine Pavilion 2018 designed by Mexican architect Frida Escobedo opens to the public on June 15. It was presented to the press on June 11, and pictures by well-known architecture photographer Iwan Baan offered everyone an opportunity to view the details of the project.
Summer is here, and so is the Serpentine Pavilion, the temporary pavilion in Kensington Gardens hosting summer events organised by the Serpentine Galleries in London. The initiative, now in its 18th year, is made possible by the generous support and sponsorship of private individuals, companies and foundations. The project is complicated by the fact that one of the basic requirements is very rapid construction and subsequent dismantling in the autumn. Mexican architect Frida Escobedo, who has never worked in the UK before – an essential requirement for the project – accepted the invitation of a selection committee including artistic director Hans Ulrich Obrist and Serpentine Galleries CEO Yana Peel, with advisors architects David Adjaye and Richard Rogers.
The material selected for the pavilion and its historic inspiration make it "inseparable from the city of London", an idea that cannot be repeated elsewhere, and this key concept inspires the project by architect Frida Escobedo. The Greenwich meridian is one of the elements the architect chooses to become part of the project. The pavilion’s simple geometry is determined by two main axes. The first governs the alignment of the fence outside the eastern façade of the Serpentine Gallery, so that, seen from far away, the pavilion looks like a dark fence, a clear, impenetrable shape resting on the lawn of Kensington Gardens. The second axis, inside it, determines the geometry of the pool of water and follows the north-south alignment of the Greenwich meridian. Time is an important element in the project. Frida Escobedo explained that “ For the Pavilion, we have added the materials of light and shadow, reflection and refraction, turning the building into a timepiece that charts the passage of the day".
A pavilion for everyone, "in its beautiful harmony of Mexican and British influences, it promises to be a space of reflection and encounter," according to artistic director Hans Ulrich Obrist.
The courtyard is in fact a typical element of traditional Mexican architecture, but its walls are made with the dark concrete tiles typical of British constructions. The tiles are used in a new and unusual way, stacked up and supported by a steel structure to build walls recalling Mexican “celosie”. In this way they create an effect of transparency, a now-you-see-it/now-you-don’t effect ensuring a continual visual connection with the park.
On June 18 another important event will take place at the Serpentine Galleries: the inauguration of a new work by Christo, The Mastaba (Project for London, Hyde Park, Serpentine Lake). Exactly two years after The Floating Piers, his work of art floating on Lake Iseo, he now creates a work for the artificial lake in Hyde Park, Serpentine Lake. Here the artist will present a smaller-scale floating version of a work he designed back in 1977 for Abu Dhabi. When the floating sculpture is unveiled, the Serpentine Galleries will present an anthological exhibition illustrating the long career of Christo and Jeanne-Claude.
Design: Frida Escobedo, Taller de Arquitectura
Location: Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, London, UK
Photograph of the architect: Cuauhtemoc García
Photograph of the paavilion: © Iwan Baan
Photograph of The Mastaba (Project for London, Hyde Park, Serpentine Lake): André Grossmann © 2017 Christo