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Zumthor reveals Serpentine Pavilion designs


Celebrated Swiss architect Peter Zumthor has unveiled the first image of his proposed Serpentine Pavilion in London’s Hyde Park

As predicted by the AJ when Zumthor landed the prize commission back in October, the scheme will feature an enclosed, internal garden.

Describing the idea behind this year’s pavilion, the 11th commission in the gallery’s annual series, Zumthor said: ‘The concept for this year’s Pavilion is the hortus conclusus, a contemplative room, a garden within a garden.

‘The building acts as a stage, a backdrop for the interior garden of flowers and light. Through blackness and shadow one enters the building from the lawn and begins the transition into the central garden, a place abstracted from the world of noise and traffic and the smells of London – an interior space within which to sit, to walk, to observe the flowers. This experience will be intense and memorable, as will the materials themselves – full of memory and time.’

The building will be made from a lightweight timber frame wrapped with scrim and coated with a black paste mixed with sand.

According to a gallery spokesman the ‘staggered doorways’ in both the exterior and interior walls ‘will offer multiple paths for visitors to follow, gently guiding them to a central, hidden inner garden’.

He added:’The covered walkways and seating surrounding this central space will create a serene, contemplative environment from which visitors may look onto the richly planted sunlit garden, the heart and focus of the building.’

The pavilion, which marks Zumthor’s UK debut, will open later this summer and has been designed with Arup.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion Commission - factfile

There is no budget for the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion commission. It is paid for by sponsorship and sponsorship help-in-kind, as well as the sale of the finished structure which does not cover more than 40 per cent of its cost. The Serpentine Gallery collaborates with a range of companies and individuals whose support makes it possible to realise the Pavilion. The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion commission is an ongoing programme of temporary structures by internationally acclaimed architects and designers. The series is unique worldwide and presents the work of an international architect or design team who has not completed a building in England at the time of the Gallery’s invitation. The Pavilion architects to date are: 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 with Arup, 2002; Daniel Libeskind with Arup, 2001; and
Zaha Hadid, 2000.

Previous story (AJ 14.10.10)

Zumthor to design Serpentine Pavilion

The AJ can exclusively reveal that celebrated Swiss architect Peter Zumthor is to design next year’s annual Serpentine Pavilion in London’s Hyde Park

The Serpentine Gallery, which only commissions architects who are yet to build in the UK, has moved quickly to appoint the Pritzker Prize winner before he completes his house in Devon (pictured).

Zumthor’s ‘Secular Retreat’ near the village of Chivelstone, for writer Alain de Botton’s not-for-profit organisation Living Architecture, is due to finish in late 2011 (AJ 16.04.09).

It is understood Zumthor has been in the frame for the pavilion for some time and initial proposals resemble ‘a big concrete block with a garden in it’ – though the design is expected to evolve over the coming months.

Other architects to have designed pavilions include Frank Gehry in 2008, Rem Koolhaas in 2006, Oscar Niemeyer in 2003 and Stirling Prize winner Zaha Hadid in 2000.

Zumthor submitted his Devon house for planning last week. It is one of a series of homes – designed by firms including NORD, MVRDV and Hopkins Architects – drawn up for Living Architecture, which will let them out for holidays.



Alain de Botton, founder of Living Architecture, on Zumthor’s work

Peter Zumthor is arguably the greatest architect in the world; a craftsman who has not built in most countries of the world. Most of his work is in Switzerland and Germany. The miracle is therefore not that he hasn’t built in the UK, but that he will do so. A Zumthor project requires a very special sort of patron: patient, sympathetic and public-spirited.


Readers' comments (5)

  • The best news for a while!

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  • So happy this is finally going to happen. What took them so long? I guess they were finally forced to make it happen, and fast, before the Devon house goes on site.

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  • A nice bit of Switzerland in Hyde Park, sounds good

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  • i wonder if it will be permanent? It would be a good end to this programme of buildings. I think this should be the last of them. Are there any starchitects left to hire, anyway?

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  • Woop! Im still seeing red from this year's *great* offering

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