Saturday, 30 July 2016

Serpentine Summerhouses

Lots of architectural activity in Hyde Park around the Serpentine Gallery this summer with the installation of these four summer houses responding to the Neo-classical Queen Caroline's Temple built in 1734, and also the annual Serpentine pavillion commission.

I enjoyed the ephemerality of this summerhouse, and the energy and movement in the wire's loops and whorls. It is by Yona Friedman and was designed so that it can take on a variety of different configurations.

This summerhouse by Asif Khan was inspired by the fact that Queen Caroline's Temple was positioned to allow it to catch the sunlight from the Serpentine lake. It consists of 100 wooden staves which appear to grow out of the ground and two metal discs inside to reflect the light and frame the vista. The staves give really interesting optical effects as you wonder through this structure.

This is Queen Caroline'sTemple a neo-classical structure built in 1734, the inspiration for the summerhouses.

Kunlé Adeyemi's summerhouse is a deconstructed version of the Queen Caroline Temple, and the surfaces are meant to reflect those of the Temple. I like the chunky solidity of this structure.

I loved the fluidity and elegance of this summerhouse structure by Barkow Leibinger, based on a design for a pavilion which used to stand in the Park that would mechanically rotate to offer 360 degree views of the park. I was so disappointed to arrive to see it fenced off whilst undergoing repairs because of all the rain that fell in June. Apparently German design and precision engineering is no match for the British summer!

The main draw architecturally however is this pavilion designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), which is described as being 'an unzipped wall of fibreglass bricks'. It is a triumph, and perhaps the best of the pavilion designs of recent years.

Serpentine Pavilion and Summer Houses
until 9th October
Kensington Gardens
London, W2