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SelgasCano’s Serpentine Gallery Pavilion

SelgasCano’s Serpentine Gallery Pavilion


Image above by Iwan Baan, courtesy of Dezeen.

For 15 years the Serpentine Pavilion has been an international site for architectural experimentation, presenting inspirational temporary structures by some of the world’s greatest architects. The 2015 Pavilion, one of the top-ten most visited architectural and design exhibitions in the world, opened to the public on 25 June and will run until 18 October. Designed by José Selgas and Lucia Cano of SelgasCano, the Pavilion features a double layered, multi-coloured plastic skin wrapped around a series of irregular metal arches, creating a whimsical, fantastical design.

The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion is awarded yearly, providing an excellent opportunity for each architect to create and build a temporary structure at Royal Park in London’s Kensington Gardens. Previous designers include Peter Zumthor, Herzog & de Meuron, SANAA, Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid. The first instalment of the Serpentine program was a simple angular tent by Zaha Hadid in 2000, and was located at a site in front of the Serpentine Gallery in London’s Kensington Gardens, where it has been exhibited annually since its inauguration.


Zaha Hadid Pavilion in 2000.


The Pavilion this year has been described by Edwin Heathcote of the Financial Times as “closer in spirit to Hadid’s [inaugural] tent than it is to some of the more structurally ambitious efforts,” suggesting a progression in design lineage on the exhibit’s 15th anniversary. Heathcote captures the novelty of the organically-shaped exhibit, which he describes as “something between an agricultural polytunnel and a Pop-Art inflatable funspace”.


Serpentine Pavilion 2015. Image by Iwan Baan.


Post-reveal, this year’s exhibit has proven to be quite controversial, receiving both praise and criticism from the public. “Architectural purists might sniff at what looks like a kid’s funfair maze from the outside,” said Oliver Wainwright from The Guardian. Others have expressed their disappointment in the execution of the structure itself, with Ellis Woodman from The Telegraph noting the “particular challenge in reconciling the plastic membrane to the complicated geometry of the steelwork”. Perhaps one of the least flattering critiques has come from Robert Bevan, formerly of the Australian Financial Review, who described the Pavilion as less “brilliant chrysalis” than “clown’s sleeve” with the opinion that the exhibit is a “shoddy end-result”.

The 2015 Serpentine Pavilion will host a number of parties and public talks, as well as a series of evening events sponsored by fashion brand COS.


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