Serpentine Pavilion 2015 by Selgascano

A series of colourful plastic cocoons lighten up Hyde Park on this unseasonably cold, wet summer’s day. They invite us to walk in and wander around the psychedelic maze. This is the Serpentine Pavilion as envisaged by Madrid-based architect Selgascano. And today it provides a much-needed refuge from the downpour.

Sitting here in the central space whilst sipping coffee by Fortnum & Mason who are running the café, I cannot help but smile as delicate, twinkling light filters through from above and around resembling glass-stained window. This has been achieved through working with a double-layered shell that is made of opaque and translucent fluorine-based plastic in multiple colours.

‘Design needs to connect with nature and feel part of the landscape,’ says Selgascano. The architect wanted to create a concept that offered a visitor experience. The firm set out to encourage the public to experience architecture through simple elements – ‘structure, light, transparency, shadow, lightness, form, sensitivity, change, surprise, colour and material’.

The temporary structure consists of a series of connected spaces of varied sizes. The spatial qualities of the Pavilion only unfold when accessing the structure and being immersed within it. Selgascano says: ‘Each entrance allows for a specific journey through the space, characterised by colour, light and irregular shapes with surprising volumes.’

The installation marks the 15th anniversary of the annual Serpentine Pavilion series. The series sees an inspirational temporary structure by some of the world’s more exciting architects commissioned by the Serpentine Gallery and constructed in London’s Kensington Gardens in Hyde Park during the summer months. The installation acts as a meeting space during the day, and hosts various cultural events in the evenings.

This is architecture as public art. The idea is for art lovers, park strollers, joggers and tourists alike to engage with conceptual design.

Past projects have included work by starchitects Frank Gehry, Peter Zumthor, Jean Nouvel and Zaha Hadid. Yet it is often younger practices such as Selgascano and last year’s Smiljan Radic who offer a more inspired journey.

Serpentine Pavilion 2015 is at Kensington Gardens, London from 25 June – 18 October

To celebrate the 15th anniversary, the Serpentine Pavilion is also running Build Your Own Pavilion: Young Architects Competition for children aged eight to 14. To find out more and how to enter visit here.

Nargess Banks

Read about the previous Serpentine Gallery Pavilions here.

Design Talks | 5 – 25 Scrutton Street | Old Street | Shoreditch | London | EC2A 4HJ | UK
Design Talks is published by Spinach Design

All rights and labelled images are covered by ©

Serpentine Gallery 89plus Marathon

It is Frieze week, and London has turned into one giant gallery. The annual art fair, which attracts art lovers from around the world, also encourages other galleries around the capital city to create something unique for this week. This includes the Serpentine Galleries – that now includes the Sackler – which will be hosting 89plus Marathon over two days (18/19 October).

This year’s event focuses on the future and considers how the internet and new social, political and economic networks are changing the world as we know it. Leading artists, writers, musicians, scientists, entrepreneurs and political activists – born in or after 1989, hence the name – will come together with world-renowned figures of all generations for a weekend of performances, screenings and debates. It will be the first major public event to take place in the new Serpentine Sackler Gallery.

89plus Marathon will investigate whether new technologies can lead to a global dialogue that will engender difference rather than homogeneity; the effect of growing up during a global economic crisis; how the internet has enabled new forms of political protest and, a question that runs as a motif throughout, who is responsible for the future…

The 89plus Marathon stage will be designed by artist Amalia Ulman. This will be the eighth Festival of Ideas, conceived by the co-director Hans Ulrich Obrist, originally inspired by the annual Pavilion commission.

Among the sixty participants confirmed are Halil Altindere, whose video Wonderland was a highlight of the 13th Istanbul Biennial; Generation X author and Marathon veteran Douglas Coupland; programmer and entrepreneur Nick D’Aloisio, who at the age of 17 sold his search optimisation tool Summly for an estimated $30 million; former member of Anonymous and LulzSec groups Jake Davis; trend forecasting group K-HOLE; rapper, producer and Youtube phenomenon Le1f; Icelandic information freedom activist Smári McCarthy; writer and curator Kevin McGarry; artist Felix Melia, who will be experimenting with social media to create and stream a film live at the Marathon; neuroscientist Kathryn Mills, who will talk about the effect of the internet on the adolescent brain; Zachary Sims, founder and CEO of Codecademy and advocate for lessons in computer science and programming as a core part of the school curriculum; and artist Hito Steyerl, one of the most influential thinkers on digital culture.

For more information visit the Serpentine Gallery.

Nargess Shahmanesh Banks

Read our previous coverage of Serpentine exhibitions here.

Design Talks | 5 – 25 Scrutton Street | Old Street | Shoreditch | London | EC2A 4HJ?W | | | Published by Banksthomas

Serpentine Sackler Gallery by Zaha Hadid

This is the new Serpentine Sackler Gallery, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects. Buried in London’s Hyde Park, in Kensington Gardens, the building breaths new life into The Magazine, a former 1805 gunpowder store. It is also a short walking distance from its parent space, the Serpentine Gallery.

The Magazine was a quite neoclassical building. It used to blend in with the park’s wildlife. I cannot recall having paid much attention to it on my many walks through the park – that is until now. Hadid’s signature bold, curvaceous design (she is often refereed to as the ‘mistress of the curve’) begs to be noticed. The wave like white structure bursts out of the western side of the unassuming gunpowder building, forming the roof that houses the café, restaurant and social space whilst the main building exhibits art.

The inaugural exhibition is a site-specific installation by Adrián Villar Rojas. Here the young Argentinean artist has tested the limits of clay to create an apparently fossilised world of ruins and ancient monuments that play with the concept of time, history, modernity and the future – much like Hadid’s building. It is an intriguing exhibition, and definitely worth visiting.

The Sackler project was the brainchild of Julia Peyton-Jones, co-director of the Serpentine Gallery, who also championed the gallery’s annual temporary pavilions. Back in 2000 she commissioned Hadid to build a temporary structure for the gallery’s annual gala. The scheme proved to be so popular that it resulted in the yearly commission of pioneering architects to design and build temporary pavilions.

The Serpentine itself may be small in size, yet it has become the sixth most visited public art institutions in the capital, championing new ideas in contemporary arts since it opened in 1970. Together with the Serpentine Pavilion projects, and now Sackler they have transformed this glorious and quite park into a live, and free exhibition space. This is proper public art.

Nargess Shahmanesh Banks


Design Talks | 5 – 25 Scrutton Street | Old Street | Shoreditch | London | EC2A 4HJ?W | | | Published by Banksthomas

Serpentine Pavilion by Sou Fujimoto

This is the latest Serpentine Gallery Pavilion designed by Sou Fujimoto and unveiled yesterday. At 41, the Japanese architect is the youngest creative to participate in the design of this temporary structure that resides in London’s Kensington Garden for four months.

His creation is a delicate, three-dimensional latticed structure made of 20mm fine steel poles that forms a lightweight and semi-transparent sculpture almost blending in with the surrounding landscape. The flexible, multi-purpose social space has a café inside to encourage park visitors to enter and interact with the Pavilion.

Fujimoto is very much part of an exciting generation of avant-garde artists who are re-inventing our relationship with the built environment. Inspired by organic structures, such as the forest, the nest and the cave, his signature buildings inhabit a space between nature and artificiality.

He describes his design concept: ‘The delicate quality of the structure, enhanced by its semi-transparency, creates a geometric, cloud-like form, as if it were mist rising from the undulations of the park. From certain vantage points, the Pavilion appears to merge with the classical structure of the Serpentine Gallery, with visitors suspended in space.’

Fujimoto is the third Japanese architect to design the Pavilion, following Toyo Ito in 2002 and Kazuyo Sejima & Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA in 2009. He has completed the majority of his buildings in Japan, with commissions ranging from the domestic, such as Final Wooden House, T House and House N, to the institutional, such as the Musashino Art Museum and Library at Musashino Art University.

The Pavilion is an exciting project that is organised by the Serpentine Gallery. Past work have included designs by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei (2012), Frank Gehry (2008), the late Oscar Niemeyer (2003) and Zaha Hadid, who designed the inaugural structure in 2000.

Nargess Shahmanesh Banks

Read our previous reports on the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion projects here.

Design Talks | 5 – 25 Scrutton Street | Old Street | Shoreditch | London | EC2A 4HJ?W | | | Published by Banksthomas

All rights and labelled images are covered by ©

Frieze, PAD and Serpentine in picture

London was at the centre of an art-frenzy last week – the capital city turned into one giant arts exhibition. At the centre was off course Frieze, the annual art fair based in a gigantic pavilion in Regent’s Park. Running alongside this was Pavilion Art and Design London, showing art and design from a much smaller and a rather more elegant marquee in Berkley Square, Mayfair. Combined with all the other satellite events around city it gave a speedy overview at the state of art today.

In Frieze and PAD galleries from around the world create micro spaces showcasing their flair and ultimate finds. At Frieze there was a cocktail of work that ranged from the brilliant to the silly, the artists were a mix of super names such as Anish Kapoor to lesser known contemporary artists hoping to be spotted by the many buyers who flock on Frieze for this very purpose.

Highlights included work by Portuguese photographer Helena Almeida shown at Galería Helga de Alvear whose large black and white photographs with splashes of red from the 70s are rather haunting. It was, however, outside the confines of the pavilion where the art really shone – the amazing sunny autumn week for sure highlighting the sculpture park  that includudes work by Gavin Turk and Tom Friedman.

PAD was less extreme. As with last year, this refined exhibition space only really shows the very best in art and design that covers work from the last century and features work by Picasso, Rothka & Co alongside new designers and artists. It is more palatable but rather less exciting than Frieze.

Kensington Gardens saw the Serpentine Marathon. The two-day art event ran alongside Frieze and featured non-stop live presentations by over fifty artists, poets, writers, philosophers, scholars, musicians, architects, designers and scientists.

This year the theme was gardens. Participants included architects and designers Elizabeth Diller, Alice Rawsthorn, Stefano Boeri, Dan Pearson, Andrea Branzi, Pascal Cribier, Adriaana Geuze, Fritz Haeg, Charles Jencks, Catherine Mosbach, Gunther Vogt, among many others.

For more on Frieze and London’s art-frenzy week read the FT report. Read our report on PAD London 2010.

Nargess Shahmanesh Banks

Design Talks | 5 – 25 Scrutton Street | Old Street | Shoreditch | London | EC2A 4HJ?W | UK | | Bookshop | Published by Banksthomas

All rights and labelled images are covered by ©