Last weekend, Sigrun came to visit me in London. Unfortunately the british weather decided to do its worst… During a rare dry period we made our way through Hyde Park to visit this years Serpentine Pavilion by Sou Fujimoto.
I really enjoyed the playfulness of this years effort, and was impressed by the lightness of the structure. To be honest, when I saw the early renders in the press, i was not expecting the final product to be nearly so delicate. In retrospect we probably visited in the perfect weather – the pavilion adding another ranging amorphous form to the cloudy London skyline.
SS When approaching the pavilion the first thing that came to mind was the clever way it seems to refer to the traditional glass and steel pavilions like Crystal Palace (originally erected in Hyde park). This pavilion dissolves that sort of classical structure with its homogenous 3 dimensional grid structure, distributing people in a nonhierarchical way throughout its amorphous form. Its strength lies in its simplicity and the elegant assembly of its thin steel elements as well as this ambiguous and playful placing of people in space.
MS For me, the pavilion was slightly let down by some of its more practical elements – which often felt a little tacked on. It seems strange and incongruous that elements such as handrails were not dealt with using the same slender steel grid. The worst deviation was the introduction of circular polycarbonate discs – these form canopies to keep out the inclement british weather. We were both puzzled by the use of discs. They detract from the purity and transparency of the gridded steel lattice, and i can only imagine how terrible they are going to look with pigeon shit all over them!
SS As mentioned before, the simple 3 dimensional grid is this pavilions strength, we found it unnecessary to add other objects in this simple gesture, everything (handrails, cover form the rain) could be incorporated into the grid, the slender steel structure lends itself to many uses. The horizontal glass infill in the structure used as steps and seating could perhaps be used overhead as well.
MS Despite our misgivings about some of the construction details, this years pavilion represents a return to the form of two years ago, and Zumthor’s introverted garden pavilion.