Smiljan Radic Combines Flintstone With Jetson To Create New Serpentine Pavilion

Smiljan Radić has unveiled the fourteenth Serpentine temporary Pavilion located outside the entrance to the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens. The structure is a fantasy hybrid which merges the Flintstones with the Jetsons in architectural style.

The commission is one of the most anticipated events in the cultural calendar and has become one of London’s leading summer attractions since launching in 2000. Smiljan Radić’s design follows Sou Fujimoto’s cloud-like structure, which was visited by almost 300,000 people in 2013 and was one of the most visited Pavilions to date.

Previous Pavilions have been designed Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei, 2012; Peter Zumthor, 2011; Jean Nouvel, 2010; Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, SANAA, 2009; Frank Gehry, 2008; Olafur Eliasson and Kjetil Thorsen, 2007; Rem Koolhaas and Cecil Balmond, with Arup, 2006; Álvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura with Cecil Balmond, Arup, 2005; MVRDV with Arup, 2004 (un-realised); Oscar Niemeyer, 2003; Toyo Ito and Cecil Balmond – with Arup, 2002; Daniel Libeskind with Arup, 2001; and Zaha Hadid, who designed the inaugural Pavillion in 2000.

Occupying a footprint of some 541 square metres on the lawn of the Serpentine Gallery, Radić’s plans depict a semi-translucent, cylindrical structure, resting on large quarry stones. Radić’s Pavilion has its roots in his earlier work, particularly the studio model for The Castle of the Selfish Giant, inspired by the Oscar Wilde story, and the Restaurant Mestizo, part of which is supported by large boulders. Designed as a flexible, multi-purpose social space with a café sited inside, the Pavilion will entice visitors to enter and interact with it in different ways throughout its four-month tenure in the Park. On Friday nights, between July and September, the Pavilion will become the stage for the Serpentine’s Park Nights series, sponsored by COS: eight site-specific events bring together art, poetry, music, film, literature and theory and include three new commissions by emerging artists Lina Lapelyte, Hannah Perry and Heather Phillipson. Smiljan Radić has completed the majority of his structures in Chile.

His commissions range from public buildings, such as the Civic Neighbourhoods, Concepción, Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino, Santiago, Restaurant Mestizo, Santiago, and the Vik Winery, Millahue, and domestic buildings, such as Copper House 2, Talca, Pite House, Papudo, and the House for the Poem of the Right Angle, Vilches, to small and seemingly fragile buildings, such as the Extension to Charcoal Burner’s House, Santa Rosa, The Wardrobe and the Mattress, Tokyo, Japan, and The Bus Stop Commission, Kumbranch, Austria. Considerate of social conditions, environments and materials, Smiljan Radić moves freely across boundaries with his work, avoiding any specific categorisation within one field of architecture.

This versatility enables him to respond to the demands of each setting, whether spatial constraints of an urban site or extreme challenges presented by a remote rural setting, mountainous terrain or the rocky coastline of his native Chile. Smiljan Radić, designer of the fourteenth Serpentine Pavilion, said: “The Serpentine 2014 Pavilion is part of the history of small romantic constructions seen in parks or large gardens, the so-called follies, which were hugely popular from the end of the sixteenth Century to the start of the nineteenth. Externally, the visitor will see a fragile shell suspended on large quarry stones. This shell – white, translucent and made of fibreglass – will house an interior organised around an empty patio, from where the natural setting will appear lower, giving the sensation that the entire volume is floating. At night, thanks to the semi-transparency of the shell, the light will attract the attention of passers-by, like lamps attracting moths.”

Photo: © P C Robinson Artlyst 2014

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