Get ready, architects and built environment enthusiasts! The annual architectural showcase of the Serpentine Pavilion in central London is back.
Every summer, some bizarre architectural “thing” pops up at Kensington Garden’s Serpentine Gallery. Said “thing” is known as a pavilion, a space that doesn’t necessarily have a particular function, doesn’t abide by any pre-determined shape, and can be both outdoor or indoor. A pavilion is, in a way, a brief-less piece of architecture.
Image courtesy of Dezeen
Ever since the year 2000, the Serpentine Gallery has been commissioning pavilions for big names in the architecture industry to build a temporary summer space in the gallery’s proximity. We have seen the likes of starchitects like Zaha Hadid or Tokyo Ito, bringing their signature architectural language into their designs, but have equally seen more austere pavilions which reveled in construction techniques, materials, and conceptions of space.
As on last week, the 2023 Serpentine Pavilion has opened to the public.
There’s a simplicity to the structure that stands in the midst of Kensington Gardens, but there’s also a layered complexity. The building, round(ish) in shape, has been built in timber, which has been punctuated to create nature-decorate panels. In turn, these have been arranged in a zig-zagged form, culminating in a light-weight looking pavilion that references the Serpentine’s historic use as a tea house.
The pavilion’s architect, Lina Gohtmeh, talks about the pavilion in terms of the “archeology of the future”. Her take is interesting; architecture is an ever-evolving industry that collects traces from a variety of disciplines. The Lebanese-born architect founds her atelier in strong contextually driven architecture, which feels both very present and equally imperceptible in its surroundings.
The name given to her design of the 2023 Serpentine Pavillion is “À table”, a french expression used to describe the calling to gather around a table for a meal. In Gotmeh’s case, the gathering occurs under this leaf-inspired structure, built up with impressive timber cantilevers and hosting a large table underneath.
As visitors immerse themselves in the 2023 Serpentine Pavilion, they will be captivated by its design, intrigued by its concept, and inspired to engage with one another. The pavilion becomes a catalyst for dialogue, fostering connections and building bridges between individuals from different backgrounds and perspectives.
The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion continues to be a testament to the transformative power of architecture, offering a platform for architects to showcase their creativity and push the boundaries of design. Each year, these temporary structures breathe new life into Kensington Gardens, enriching the cultural fabric of London and inspiring architects and enthusiasts worldwide.