26 October 2016
Serpentine Pavilion, designed by Danish architect Bjark Ingels, is on show at London's Kensington Gardens. Photo: Jennifer Wong
Serpentine Pavilion, designed by Danish architect Bjark Ingels, is on show at London's Kensington Gardens. Photo: Jennifer Wong

Creative architecture: Serpentine Pavilion & Summer Houses

The Serpentine Galleries in London’s Kensington Gardens commission every year a summer pavilion from a leading architect.

The program has become a success as it has showcased the creative concepts of top international architects such as Zaha Hadid and Frank Gehry and leading artists such as Ai Weiwei.

This year, the program has expanded with four Summer Houses joining the Serpentine Pavilion, after a creative brief called for a response to the 18th-century Queen Caroline’s Temple in the garden.

Serpentine Pavilion by Bjark Ingels: simple yet complex 

Designed by Bjark Ingels Group (BIG), the summer pavilion this year is a free-form sculpture that opens up multiple perspectives. Made with hollow fiber glass boxes stacked together, the entire structure resembles an ‘unzipped wall’, offering curious spaces and movements both within and without.

The Danish firm has a vision for practical and utopian architecture. With a number of accolades including the 2016 Louis Kahn Memorial Award, 2010 European Prize for Architecture, and the Danish Crown Prince’s Culture Prize 2011, Ingels’ design projects range from Two World Trade Center in New York to the recently topped-out LEGO House in Denmark.

Asif Khan: a secluded oasis that blends with the landscape

Khan’s pavilion is a spiritual, rounded structure that connects the viewer to the 300-year-old Temple made by William Kent to celebrate Queen Caroline’s birthday. The pavilion springs from a gravel landscape, and is wrapped around by white timber staves that opens up and encloses space.

Khan’s recent projects saw him shortlisted for the prestigious Guggenheim Helsinki Competition. The UK-based architect was the designer of the Coca-Cola pavilion in the Olympic Park during the London 2012 Olympic Games. His accolades include a Cannes Lions Grand Prix for Innovation for his pavilion at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

Reflecting on the nurturing of young talent, Khan remarks that more opportunities should be opened up to young architects to allow them to demonstrate their potential, particularly by offering them the chance to take part in larger-scale, public building projects.

Kanh’s international work portfolio includes a streetscape installation in Xintiandi, Shanghai, a city which Khan feels succeeds in blending the historic architecture with the new.

Barlow Leibinger: a sculpture that mirrors contour drawings

Designed by Barkow Leibinger, the free-standing pavilion is conceived as a series of undulating lines constituting bands and forming part of the structure that is reminiscent of a contour drawing.

Leibinger’s work has been shown at the Architecture Biennale Venice 2008 and 2014, and is included in the permanent collections of MoMA, New York, and the Deutsches Architektur Museum, Frankfurt. Leibinger has won three National AIA Honor Awards for Architecture and the prestigious Marcus Prize for Architecture, Milwaukee.

Kunlé Adeyemi: inversing the past

Kunlé Adeyemi’s Summer House is an inverse replica of Queen Caroline’s Temple – a tribute to its robust form, space and material, recomposed into a new sculptural object. A leading Nigerian architect, urbanist and creative researcher, his recent work includes Makoko Floating School, an innovative floating structure located on the lagoon heart of Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos. Further, he serves as a juror for RIBA’s 2016 International Prize.

Yona Friedman: philosophical, humanist architecture

The Summer House designed by Hungary-born French architect, Yona Friedman, takes the form of a modular structure that can be assembled and disassembled in different formations. Drawing on his post-war experience and the structure of refugee homes, the pavilion builds on the architect’s pioneering project La Ville Spatiale (Spatial City) begun in the late 1950s.

Friedman is known for his manifesto on using mobile architecture to meet the organic growth of cities, and his advocacy for more humanistic buildings to give more choice and freedom to the inhabitants.

The Serpentine Pavillion and the Summer Houses will be on show in London from now until Oct. 9. 

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A summer House exhibit by Asif Khan (L) and another by Kunle Adeyemi (R). Photo: Jennifer Wong

Summer House by Germany’s Barlow Leibinger. Photo: Jennifer Wong

Summer House by Hungarian-born French architect Yona Friedman. Photo: Jennifer Wong

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