Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2011


The new Serpentine Gallery Pavilion will open to the public on Friday July 1st.  The Pavilion is designed by world-renowned Swiss architect Peter Zumthor.  This year's Pavilion is the 11th commission and the architect's first complete building in the UK.  At the heart of the Pavilion is a garden that the architect hopes will inspire visitors to relax and observe.  On our visit today the sun was fierce and the temperature scorching making the apreciation of this idea very difficult.  The black finish, although meant to look natural by using Idenden (chemical) and scrim is totally unsympathetic to the whole premise behind the building. 

Zumthor has stated that "the concept for the Pavilion is the hortus conclusus, a contemplative room, a garden within a garden.  The building acts as a stage, a backdrop for the interior garden of flowers and light.  Through blackness and shaow one enters the building from the lawn and begins the transittion into the central garden, a place abstracted from the world of noise (which flies overhead!) and traffic and the smells of London-an interior space within which to sit (if you can find a seat away from the sun!), to walk (not enough space), and to observe the flowers.  This experience will be intense and memorable, as will the materials themselves - full of memory and time".

The garden was designed by prominent garden designer Piet Oudolf.  His designs emphasize the natural architecture of plants, using expressive drifts of grasses and herbaceous perennials to create gardens that evolve in form throughout the lives of the plants.  In fact, it is the garden that is more contemplative and true to the architect's original concept that 'we come from nature and we return to nature', and belief that we should honour nature.  This is true, we should, but in honouring nature we should respect it as well and creating a 'black box' for the sake of creating meditative shadows and moments of inner reflection seems a natural contradiction.  Even the passages created between outside and the internal space are not so secret, they is no mystery as you step from one environment into another.  And if summer continues to be as hot as today then a 'black box' is the wrong place to be...no matter how wonderful the garden is!