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'Niemeyer's pavilion must remain'

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The Serpentine Gallery's temporary pavilion, now a regular summer fixture, could also become a permanent fixture, if architect Stephen Fry achieves his dream.

The single practitioner was so impressed with Niemeyer's pavilion, currently in place outside the gallery in London's Hyde Park, that he has appealed to culture minister Tessa Jowell to step in and save it.

The structure by the Brazilian nonagenarian is set to be dismantled on 14 September and collected by its new owner. But Fry, recently returned from 20 years living in Brazil, has pledged to fight to keep it in situ.

'It works too well - in that position, with that informal function - to be just shipped out, ' Fry said. 'It has grown to its place and its function. And it's a major privilege for us to have a work by Niemeyer in our midst.

'We must keep it. In this position, it will become a loved part of London's visual character.'

But with just a few days to go, the odds are against Fry unless he can persuade Jowell to intervene.

As the Serpentine's director Julia Peyton-Jones explained:

'The gallery's agreement with the Royal Parks is that without fail the pavilion will come down on 14 September to allow the lawn to recover before the build for next year's architectural commission. In addition to this, planning permission was granted for a three-month period only.

'The Serpentine has no budget for this project and the revenue for the sale recoups 40 per cent of the cost of the build.'

While the gallery will not reveal the identity of the pavilion's new owner until negotiations are finalised, Peyton-Jones told Fry it is to become part of a cancer hospital.

But while it may be too late to save the original Niemeyer Pavilion, Fry's campaign has raised an interesting new idea.

'The sale of this year's pavilion is to be completed shortly, ' Peyton-Jones said. 'However, the concept that replicas of future pavilions could be built for siting elsewhere in Hyde Park or Kensington Gardens is intriguing. The budget for these projects would have to be found from sources independent of the gallery.'


lZaha Hadid (2000) Bought by the Royal Shakespeare Company to host events at Stratford upon Avon.

l Daniel Libeskind (2001) Acquired by a private Irish collector.

l Toyo Ito (2002) Sold to Parkview International and currently in use as a marketing suite for the developer's Battersea Power Station scheme.

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