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Sunday, 5 October 2014

Serpentine Pavilion 2014 by Smiljan Radić

I went to see the year's pavilion in the summer in August, I just remembered that I never actually got to writing a post about it so here it is!

Every year at the Serpentine Gallery a designer/ architect is commissioned to create a pavilion for the public of London to use and appreciate. This year it was Chilean architect Smiljan Radic's turn to impress us. As I approached the pavilion I wondered where the entrance into what looked like a oversized cave could be, a reoccurring pattern I have noticed with many designers who have previously created a pavilion for the Serpentine (hidden entrances). The entrance into the pavilion is not so obvious from a far. As I reached closer within the premises what I thought was a cave began to look more like a shell as the materials looked lighter and more fragile than I expected it to be. The exterior of this suspended hoop was made out of fibre glass giving an off white translucent effect. The entrance was opposite the Serpentines long panelled windows led by a short black bridge. The space within was calm and therapeutic to walk through as the structure flowed with no obstructions. This loop is supported by large quarry stones complimented the scenery giving the pavilion physical weight and outer structure. The stones also had good use of multipurpose functioning as additional slabs of rocks are surrounding the lower grounds below this shell as seating for the public. Within the shell is a cafe where the seating areas are placed on the outer lines of the design closest to the fibreglass. The day I visited many other people were also there, as I examined the space I could understand why. There were children running below loop, friends and families seated out on the exterior rocks and people having a drink in the pavilion and others who were having a chat or taking pictures off of the rare balconies that extended out of the pavilion.

The grey wood decking used in the pavilion gave the place a terrace outdoor feel rather than the atmosphere you would assume to receive when entering an interior. However I believe it worked well especially against the interior lighting strip which lightly suspended from the shells ceiling. When I observe this shell closer I came to notice its elements of mâché and the behaviour of the interior lighting alters when the sun glares against it as if the structure comes alive. After seeing the effect the sunlight has on the shell structure I began to wonder what does it look like at night? Can people even see it night? The answer to the last question is yes, we can't see it up close and personal at night because I assume the gallery is closed after hours (unless there is an event going on there which you've been invited to). However we will be able to spot the structure as I read in Radic's statement that the structure is lit up over night with the translucent fibre glass covered in hand woven maché giving a soft amber tinted view.

What I really appreciated was that although I was in the pavilion, I never forgot the location as the interior has many glimpse of the beautiful Kennigton Gardens surroundings with an extended dark box window which reveals the out door setting and the out openings where you can see the inner hoop, the opposite side of the hoop and the miniature courtyard created below as a stone acts as a centrepiece. Radić in my eyes has successfully creating what feel to me as a safe haven or refuge for the people of the capital to embrace.

The Serpentine Pavilion is open until 19th October.

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