NOT FOR THE FIRST TIME HAS THE SERPENTINE HAD PAVILION PROBLEMS
Construction lawyers would starve to death if there were more clients like Julius Drewe, the man who commissioned Castle Drogo from Lutyens.
As our building study reveals (see pages 25-37), the roof, in the grand tradition of adventurous architecture, leaked from day one. But, subverting all expectations, the clients not only fought the problem valiantly - if ineffectively - but also 'kept the matter from their architect so as not to hurt his pride'.
Nor is this the only reversal of the accepted order. Also at Castle Drogo, it was the client that pushed for an ambitious, grandiose building, while the architect tried to dig in his heels and go for a more modest and domestic solution.
Maybe there is something in the air. This building study is published in the week that Peter Cook, for so long the consummate outsider for his ludic achievements with Archigram, crowned several establishment awards with the receipt of a knighthood. Surely there will be accusations of selling out? But Cook has trodden such a careful path as an insider/outsider that his most fervent admirers are celebrating, not deriding, his achievement.
And what about the Serpentine? Not for the first time it has had programme problems with its summer pavilions. This year's first choice, Frei Otto, had to withdraw when he felt unready to meet his deadlines. Then it transpired that the replacement, a collaboration between Snøhetta and artist Olafur Eliasson, would not be ready for the all-important glitzy summer party. So who did the Serpentine call in to help in this emergency? Some steady, reliable old ally? No - none other than Zaha Hadid, who has magically made time from her packed schedule to rustle up a couple of canopies.
They do say that if you want a job done you should ask a busy person. But it seems that a gloriously topsy-turvy summer season may be starting early.