The Serpentine Gallery in London has unveiled the designs for this year's prestigious Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, designed by BIG, showing an "unzipped wall" which rises to a point above the entrance. In addition to the pavilion, this year the Serpentine gallery will host four smaller "summer houses" designed by Kunlé Adeyemi - NLÉ, Barkow Leibinger, Yona Friedman and Asif Khan. For these summer houses, the Serpentine Gallery asked the participants to take inspiration from Queen Caroline's Temple, a small, classical summer house near to the gallery that was built in 1734.
Read on to find out more about all five designs.
BIG's pavilion was developed from the starting point of a single brick wall, which is then pulled apart - or "unzipped" - to create the internal spaces for the pavilion's program. "We have attempted to design a structure that embodies multiple aspects that are often perceived as opposites," explain BIG in their description of the design, "a structure that is free-form yet rigorous, modular yet sculptural, both transparent and opaque, both solid box and blob."
For the structure of the wall, bricks are replaced with hollow sections of extruded fiberglass, creating a wall that is transparent when viewed straight-on but opaque from an angle.
"Bjarke Ingels has responded to the brief for a multi-purpose Pavilion with a supremely elegant structure that is both curvaceous wall and soaring spire, that will surely serve as a beacon - drawing visitors across Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens to visit the Pavilion, the Summer Houses and our major exhibitions by Alex Katz and Etel Adnan," said Serpentine Galleries Director, Julia Peyton-Jones, and Co-Director, Hans Ulrich Obrist.
Kunlé Adeyemi - NLÉ
For their summer house, NLÉ has designed an "inverse replica" of Queen Caroline's Temple, 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. Constructed out of sandstone similar to the original, the design is conceived as a tribute to the original temple's "robust form, space and material, recomposed into a bold new sculptural object."
Barkow Leibinger's design responds not so much to Queen Caroline's Temple itself, but to an accompanying 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.