Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2010 by Jean Nouvel

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2010 by Jean Nouvel

Jean Nouvel’s new blaze of red steel in London’s Hyde Park is the tenth in the Serpentine Gallery’s series of summer pavilions, whose past pedigree of architects includes Zaha Hadid, Oscar Niemeyer and Saana, to reel off a few. Rarely one for quiet gestures, the French architect - whose previous projects include Paris’ Institut du Monde Arabe and the Copenhagen Concert Hall - has created a bold geometrical structure with a soaring, 12m tall cantilevered wall. Here, we see it under construction and take a look at the full series of experimental pavilions.

Watch the film of Nouvel’s Serpentine Gallery Pavilion under construction

Nouvel’s design consists of a series of retractable awnings and freestanding walls. It’s a fluid, open space whose glass roofs and fabric screens manipulate the light to often hallucinatory effect. ’I wanted to play with the diffusion of light and diffraction of the surrounding images,’ he explains. Inspired by British icons, like the London bus and the post box, the flaming structure is the first Serpentine pavilion to embrace colour. Says Nouvel: ’It’s a symphony of different reds.’

Last year’s floating pavilion by Saana inspired a high level of interaction from the public and this year’s looks set to do the same. The pavilion invites people to play - be it with its ping pong tables or chess boards - and the space is strewn with an eclectic collection of benches, stools and mattress-like pouffes in varying shades of red. It may be a little haphazard for our liking, but it’s intentionally so. ’I want disorder in this place,’ says Nouvel.

This year’s pavilion will also be home to the Serpentine café and a series of talks. Each year the architects are given just six months to complete their structures from the moment they are invited. Says Nouvel of his pavilion: ’It’s not meant to be a perfect exercise of beautiful architecture. It’s about the sensations that it provides.’

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