Book review

Ten years of temporary pavilions by top architects

Since 2000, the Serpentine Gallery in London’s Kensington Gardens has called on some of the world’s top architects to design summer pavilions – temporary structures that are erected next to the Gallery itself for a three-month period. The Serpentine, which was built in 1934 as a tea pavilion, opened in 1970 as a showplace for exhibitions of modern and contemporary artists ranging from Matthew Barney to Dan Flavin, Ellsworth Kelley, Louise Bourgeois or Rachel Whiteread. It is the only public modern and contemporary art gallery in central London, which maintains free admission and is open seven days a week.
The pavilions are the work of international architects or design teams who at the time of the Serpentine’s invitation have not completed a building in England. A maximum of six months from invitation to completion is allotted. The only architecture program of its type in the world, the Serpentine Gallery Pavilions attract up to 250,000 visitors each summer. The architect Richard Rogers has stated, “The pavilions, erected for reatively little money, are unbelievably good. I coudn’t single one out that I have liked more than the others – they have all been masterpieces.

The projects completed or envisaged include the work of

  • Zaha Hadid, 2000
  • Daniel Libeskind, 2001
  • Toyo Ito, 2002
  • Oscar Niemeyer, 2003
  • MVRDV, 2004 (un-realised)
  • Alvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura with Cecil Balmond, 2005
  • Rem Koolhaas and Cecil Balmond, 2006
  • Olafur Eliasson and Kjetil Thorsen, 2007
  • Frank Gehry, 2008
  • SANAA, 2009
  • Jean Nouvel, 2010
  • Other works such as Zaha Hadid's temporary 2006 installation Lilas are included in the book as well.
This book is the first to bring together all of the Serpentine Pavilions.

Interviews of Serpentine Director Julia Peyton-Jones and Exhibitions Director Hans-Ulrich Obrist complete the description of the pavilions, illustrated by the original drawings by each architect and photos of the completed works.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilions by Philip Jodidio

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Philip Jodidio
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Serpentine Gallery Pavilions

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