Pastures new: Radić Pavilion’s new outpost with Hauser & Wirth
When Smiljan Radic’s pavilion opened in Hyde Park last summer it drew immediate comparison with a Dolmen, an alien object from prehistory set amidst the manicured and methodical romanticism of London parkland. In November, after its London run, the Radic pavilion was carefully carved up, demounted and reinstalled in Hauser & Wirth’s new Somerset outpost.
The pavilion sits amidst new landscaping by the Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf, another Serpentine regular (he collaborated with Zumthor on his inside-out garden space in 2011). It’s still early days for Oudolf’s planting, but the designer’s characteristically dense drawing shows the one and a half acre rise crammed with 26,000 perennials, with the distant pavilion set against fields and woods beyond. It is a bucolic scene, as are the views out of the great curved openings and oculi in the elevated structure. The pavilion doesn’t have a lofty purpose, apart from being a fine vantage point and café, but Radic seems happy enough for it to be repurposed as a rural folly - ’to see the object in another space is a really, really strange thing.’ The great quarry stones that contain the steel supports are scattered over slope, enhancing the pavilion’s monolithic appearance.
Hauser & Wirth’s rural ecosystem is thriving. Just eight months after opening Durslade Farm there have already been 90,000 visitors, against initial projections of 40,000 a year. The modest new additions by Argentinean architect Louis Laplace are weathering gently into the landscape, set alongside the restored walls and roofs of the original agricultural landscape. Alice Workman, the gallery’s director, has initiated a new architecture programme, buoyed by the pavilion and it is soon to see more new building following an architectural competition for a new studio ’hut’, which received some 300 entrants. There’s also a new show, ’Land Marks’, which makes explicit the connection between visionary architecture and landscape. Curated by Nicholas Olsberg and Markus Lähteenmäki, it contains over 100 striking exhibits - mostly drawn from a private collection - that cover practically every period of emerging architecture and before.
The Radic Pavilion has perhaps the happiest afterlife of any Serpentine structure. While the majority of the 15 pavilions created for the London gallery are in long-term storage, other structures will never transcend their glorious debut in Kensington Gardens. The structure’s Somerset tenure is currently open-ended, but it’s not hard to imagine this pebble-like folly intriguing and engaging visitors for decades to come.