On Sunday 20th of July, the Serpentine Gallery opened this summer’s Pavilion to the public. The commissioned architect is none other than Frank Gehry. The pavilion is his first work in the United Kingdom, so it was hotly anticipated. The timber structure – designed and engineered in collaboration
with Arup – is anchored by four massive steel columns and is comprised
of large timber planks and a complex network of overlapping glass
planes that create a dramatic, multi-dimensional space.
Frank Gehry and his
team took inspiration for this year’s Pavilion from a fascinating
variety of sources including the elaborate wooden catapults designed by
Leonardo da Vinci as well as the striped walls of summer beach huts.
Part-amphitheatre, part-promenade, these seemingly random elements make
a transformative place for reflection and relaxation by day, and
discussion and performance by night.
Frank Gehry said: ‘The Pavilion is designed as a wooden timber
structure that acts as an urban street running from the park to the
existing Gallery. Inside the Pavilion, glass canopies are hung from the
wooden structure to protect the interior from wind and rain and provide
for shade during sunny days. The Pavilion is much like an amphitheatre,
designed to serve as a place for live events, music, performance,
discussion and debate. As the visitor walks through the Pavilion they
have access to terraced seating on both sides of the urban street. In
addition to the terraced seating there are two elevated seating pods,
which are accessed around the perimeter of the Pavilion. These pods
serve as visual markers enclosing the street and can be used as stages,
private viewing platforms and dining areas.
The Pavilion is the architect’s first built structure in England. He
has collaborated for the first time with his son Samuel Gehry. Since
2001, Peter Rogers, Director of Stanhope, has donated his expertise to
all aspects of the Serpentine Gallery Pavilions and he continues to
play a major role. The Pavilion is a fully accessible public space in
the Royal Park of Kensington Gardens, attracting up to 250,000 visitors
every Summer and is accompanied by an ambitious programme of public
talks and events.