SANNAA @ THE SERPENTINE  -  Sunday July 19th, 2009

Saturday: SANNAA’s new pavilion at the Serpentine Gallery. The architects statement: ‘The pavilion is floating aluminium, drifting freely between the trees like smoke. The reflective canopy undulates across the site, expanding the park and sky. Its appearance changes according to the weather, allowing it to melt into the surroundings. It works as a field of activity with no walls, allowing views to extend uninterrupted across the park and encouraging access from all sides. It is a sheltered extension of the park where people can read, relax and enjoy lovely summer days.’ Praise: A really well designed pavilion, reminiscent of the principles Kuma expounds. Criticism: The faults lay not in the design, but the execution of the pavilion, and as a visitor I was very aware of the limitations that the project had imposed upon the architects’ dream- the realities of construction (I am using the press release as reference to their intent). The groundplane was almost without undulation, and set in a brutal concrete, which exaggerated, not blurred, the pavilion’s boundaries (as oposed to a grass floor, which would bring the surroundings into the space). The forest had been downsized to several indoor plants in terracotta pots, which gave the pavilion a kind of kitch feel. Finally, (though no fault of the architects) the connection with the park was broken by the ubiquitous wrought iron fence, which the English feel so passionately about (they are very much a people of mine and thine). Final thoughts: nonetheless, a beautiful element almost bobbing in its landscape, miles lighter than Rem’s balloon. Also, this wallpaper* video is worth a look- I like SANNAA’s response, but the other goons leave me cold.

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