Jean Nouvel’s Serpentine Pavilion

These are pictures of the latest Serpentine Gallery Pavilion designed by French architect Jean Nouvel. This is the 10th commission for the annual event in London that has become an international hotbed for architectural experimentation.

Nouvel’s design is a vivid red structure that dramatically clashes with and enhances the bright green colour of its Hyde Park setting. The red is also intended to reflect the iconic British postbox and London bus. The design is a contrast of of lightweight materials and striking sharp metal structures. Outside the main structure the architect has created a space to play and relax featuring red tennis tables and hammocks, but also frisbees and kites will be available for the public to have fun with throughout the summer.

‘I always play with light to create an ambiguity with the essence of the matter,’ he told DT at the opening ceremony. The architect strongly believes in what he refers to as ‘the interplay between light and materiality that give the impression that materials have vanished’.

In the Serpentine Pavilion he notes: ‘The transparency was to play with the reflections of the glass.’ Nouvel stresses that lighting is essential to the structure and that at night he sees dim lights, perhaps candles, lighting up the Pavilion.

Nouvel creates magical surfaces. In his previous work, namely the design of L’Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, light-filtering steel shutters that operate like camera shutters and are inspired by the motifs and decorations in North African houses, create quite a theatrical surface. The Fondation Cartier, also in Paris, has an exterior that plays heavily with reflections and transparencies to achieve this magical effect. The Serpentine Pavilion perhaps lacks some this magic, but certainly retains the intended theatrical element.

The Nouvel Pavilion coincides with the gallery celebrating its 40th anniversary. For more on the project and to view previous Serpentine Gallery Pavilions visit the Serpentine Gallery.


Nargess Shahmanesh Banks 

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