Monday, July 21, 2014

Architecture in the park

We made our second annual summer trip to London yesterday - early in the morning once more - to Hyde Park.  The Serpentine Gallery commissions an annual temporary pavilion which acts as a piece of living sculpture, abuzz with visitors, their children and dogs, having coffee and taking snaps.  Each year I am delighted with the solution, whether I like the structure or not - most of them I have liked - but no-one has yet surpassed my favourite by Frank Gehry in 2008
This year's pavilion is the design of Smiljan Radic, a Chilean whose grandfather emigrated from Croatia in 1919.  It is a playful structure which I can imagine at the bottom of a (large) garden, functioning as a children's play space during the day and as a adult party venue at night.
The fibreglass curves look home made, and must resemble closely the papier mache model. 
The outside imperfections intrigued, but bothered me a bit.  I found them too much of a contrast to the precise metal wires etc. 
Once inside however, I was totally converted: I just loved those contrasts.  There were attractions in every direction I looked.
I very much liked the lighting solutions and all the struts, supports, and functional whatnots generally.
It also very much worked with people in and around it - there would probably not be enough seating inside for everyone with their coffee, but the stones at its base were perfect for perching, climbing, and sprawling on.
There is more architectural discussion on the pavilion here, and here, and here.
After our coffee we strolled across the Serpentine itself to the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, which is also part of the Serpentine galleries.  The Serpentine Sackler Gallery was a gunpowder store, and was converted with an amazing addition by Zaha Hadid, opening last year.  The gallery space is amazing: room spaces which currently contain video/film pieces and are perfect for that - a contrast to the otherwise prevailing large white cube space.  Intimate brick enveloping the viewer made the work powerful.
The addition to the existing building is the restaurant appropriately named The Magazine.  Coincidentally, the day before we visited, Eirene posted about it with illuminating photos of the interior in her blog A place called space.
Dramatic curves work so well with the existing building, each blending closely, yet with their own character intact.
I was also amused to see that it is not just we at home who suffer from a surfeit of spiders these days!


  1. No pavilion when we visited, Olga - everything was covered with scaffolding and the whole area was cordoned off. I miss the pavilion every year, but thought that we might make it this year as we came to Greece later than usual - but alas, it was not to be. It looks very intriguing indeed and I am sorry I missed it.

    There weren't even any tables and chairs outside the Sackler - am I beginning to feel sorry for myself? Maybe....

    And, thanks for the mention.

  2. Eirene, the pavilion is usually around until the middle of October, so you could catch it when you return perhaps. We have never seen the pavilions in autumn.

    Because we usually go up to London very early - especially when we go to see the pavilion - we were far too early to go into the Magazine restaurant - so you have that experience that we don't. We just had coffee in takeaway cups at the pavilion.

  3. Ah! Trying to make me feel better - how sweet.

    I am sorry you did not manage to go inside the restaurant - maybe next time.

  4. Eirene, you have no need of being made to feel better - you have swimming in the sea!

  5. This is beautiful .. and both quite new to me. The photos of the structures are fascinating. The Extension on the Sackler Gallery by Zaha Hadid. Her work is always extraordinary and powerful with its use of curves. This is especially amazing.

  6. Margaret, it was indeed a wondrously curvy day!