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SERPENTINE GOES TO KOOLHAAS

AGENDA

Dutch superstar Rem Koolhaas has been picked to design next year's Serpentine Gallery Pavilion. His appointment effectively kills off the ambitious proposals by fellow Dutch architect MVRDV to build a 23m-high mountain over the gallery in Kensington Gardens, west London.

The ambitious scheme for a 200-tonne, grass-coated structure was due to go on site earlier this year, but the project had to be sent back to the drawing board for 'further development'.

Now Serpentine chiefs have admitted the MVRDV pavilion will almost certainly never be built because of 'outstanding technical and financial issues'.

Instead the gallery has offered Pritzker Prize-winning architect Koolhaas the chance to build his first structure in the UK. The founding director of the Rotterdam-based practice Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), he has also been asked to come up with a programme of public events, which is scheduled to begin in July 2006.

Koolhaas is known around the world for both his radical writing and his buildings.

Among his most critically acclaimed projects are the Seattle Public Library and his famous Kunsthal in Rotterdam (pictured).

The Dutchman will collaborate on the pavilion scheme with Cecil Balmond, the renowned deputy chairman of Arup who has worked on each of the gallery's five previous temporary pavilions.

The move will come as a disappointment to MVRDV, which had expected to be asked to continue developing its scheme. Back in January, gallery director Julia PeytonJones vowed to support the practice's proposals and claimed that she was committed to delivering the 'visionary' designs 'without compromise' (AJ 27.01.05). However, Koolhaas' appointment dashes these hopes.

Every year the Serpentine Gallery asks an internationally renowned architect to draw up plans for a pavilion which will sit on the gallery's lawn for three months.

At the time of the invitation the architect must not have completed a building in the UK. Other designers to have this opportunity include Brazilian Oscar Niemeyer in 2003; Toyo Ito with Arup in 2002; and Daniel Libeskind with Arup in 2001.

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