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Serpentine Pavilion 2018


With the arrival of Summer, London’s Hyde Park is decked out in its annual contemporary architecture project: the Serpentine Gallery pavilion.

This year it was the Mexican architect Frida Escobedo who was in charge of building the ephemeral installation. She is known for her dynamic projects that reactivate the urban space. Harnessing a subtle interplay of light, water and geometry, her proposal draws on both domestic Mexican architecture and British references—the Greenwich Meridian, to be exact—as well as British materials, chosen for their dark colours and textured surfaces.

Escobedo is the youngest architect to accept the invitation to design a pavilion in Kensington gardens. Her project takes the form of a courtyard enclosed by a lattice, flanked by two rectangular volumes positioned at an angle. While the outer walls are aligned with the Serpentine Gallery’s eastern façade, the axis of the internal courtyard aligns directly to the north, in a clear reference to the Prime Meridian, which was established in 1851 at Greenwich and became the global standard marker of time and geographical distance.

The internal courtyards are typical of Mexican domestic architecture. The pavilion walls are a lattice of undulating cement roof tiles, another typical element in Mexican architecture, allowing the breeze to penetrate the building. Two reflecting components emphasise the movement of light and shadow inside the pavilion in the course of the day: the curved underside of the canopy is clad with mirrored panels, and a small and shallow triangular pool traces its boundary directly beneath the edge of the roof, along the north axis of the Meridian. As the sun moves across the sky, reflected and refracted by these features, visitors may feel a heightened awareness of time spent in leisure, improvisation and contemplation over the summer months.

The pavilion contains a café and it is also a platform for the Park Nights, the themed programme promoted by the art gallery, with experimental and interdisciplinary evenings revolving around art, architecture, music, film and dance, staged on selected Fridays.

From 15 June to 7 October 2018


Kensington Gardens
W2 3XA, London. UK

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