The Big Zipper – the Serpentine Pavilion 2016

Serpentine Pavilion 2016Every year the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens commissions a temporary summer pavilion to stand next to the gallery and showcase new architecture. They’re always amazing structures, innovative and completely different to each other, and the architect is always one who hasn’t yet built anything in the UK. This year we’ve been spoilt – besides the main pavilion there are four summer houses by different architects to choose from.

Serpentine Pavilion 2016

The pavilion itself is by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels. It’s made from pultruded (no, me neither) fibreglass frames stacked on top of each other.

Serpentine Pavilion 2016

The wall is then pulled apart like a zipper to form the café and event space.

Serpentine Pavilion 2016

This unzipping of the wall turns the line into a surface, says the architect, transforming the wall into a space.

Serpentine Pavilion 2016

As you walk around the views change so sometimes the wall appears solid and sometimes transparent, while the shape changes from long and thin to rectangular, or frames the Serpentine Gallery.

Serpentine Pavilion 2016

The four Summer Houses are inspired by the nearby Queen Caroline’s Temple, a classical style summer house, built in 1734. Yannick and I walked down from the Italian Garden (where, incidentally, there’s a very nice new café with lovely views of the fountains) so the first summer house we saw was a modular structure of cubes by French architect Yonah Friedman, so light and airy it could hardly be called a house at all.

Serpentine Summerhouse 2016

Next was a house of timber staves and polished metal roof by British architect Asif Khan which is aligned towards the direction of the rising sun on 1st March 1683, Queen Caroline’s birthday.

Serpentine Summerhouse 2016

Serpentine Summerhouse 2016

Nigerian architect Kunlé Adeyemi has produced an inverse replica of the temple from rough sandstone. It rotates the temple’s inner space, exposing its neo-classical form.

Serpentine Summerhouse 2016

It stands just in front of the temple, making comparison easy.

Serpentine Summerhouse 2016

American/German architectural practice Barkow Leibinger has built a summer house of undulating structural bands from plywood and timber that has a pleasing golden glow.

Serpentine Summerhouse 2016

Serpentine Summerhouse 2016

The pavilion and summer houses will remain in place until 9th October. The pavilion is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm.

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