The 2014 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, designed by Chilean architect Smiljan Radic, opened this morning in London's Hyde Park. The pavilion, a glass-fibre reinforced plastic shell resting on large quarry stones, was inspired by a papier mâché model which Radic created four years ago as a response to the Oscar Wilde story 'The Selfish Giant'.
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The resulting structure, a seemingly impossibly thin translucent shell, will attract passers-by "like moths" during the evening hours, as the amber-tinted light glows from within. From inside, "the natural setting will appear lower, giving the sensation that the entire volume is floating," according to Radic.
Speaking at the opening press conference, Radic spoke about the success of his design: "When I came two days ago, I saw the interior space and I saw the exterior, I felt that I was inside my model… to change that scale of some materials is really difficult. If you look at this pavilion from the outside, you feel that it's a handmade volume."
He went on to explain his intentions for the first structure he has built in the UK: "Burda means crude in Spanish…I would like to express the sensation of masking tape, or Papier-mâché models that I made four years ago. And this crude architecture, I would like people to feel that crude architecture.
"I'm trying to understand this Folly in a new kind of relation with the public, with the situation of the architect today, but I got some of these rules, for example, the idea of rooms - the rooms give you the sensation that the volume is broken up and you have a really good relation with the weather and with the landscape… and you feel, at the same time, outside. And time is getting pressed in these rooms. It's a mechanism. But at the same time it gives you the sensation of, how do you say?- Brutalism: strong and crude."
Directors of the Serpentine Gallery Julia Peyton-Jones and Hans Ulrich Obrist said of Radic's design: "while enigmatically archaic, in the tradition of romantic follies, Radic’s designs for the Pavilion also look excitingly futuristic, appearing like an alien space pod that has come to rest on a Neolithic site."
Once again, Aecom has provided the engineering for the design, this year proving instrumental in developing a shell which looks like papier mâché but has the strength to withstand hundreds of thousands of visitors over four months.
The new pavilion has much to live up to, as last year's design by Sou Fujimoto was the pavilion's most successful year ever attracting almost 200,000 visitors. Radic's pavilion will have until October to try to match this number.