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Emerging Chilean architect picked to design 2014 Serpentine Pavilion

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In choosing Smiljan Radic Serpentine opts for comparatively unknown talent for second year running

Chilean architect Smiljan Radic has been revealed as the surprise choice to design this year’s Serpentine Pavilion.

The 48-year-old who is practically unknown outside his country was described by the gallery as a ‘key protagonist of an amazing architectural explosion in Chile’.

The 350m² pavilion, which will once again be engineered by AECOM, will resemble a shell resting on large quarry stones and the plans depict a semi-translucent, cylindrical structure.

Designed as a flexible multi-purpose space, visitors will be encouraged to enter and interact with the pavilion in different ways throughout its four-month tenure in Hyde Park.

The Santiago-based architect said: ‘The Serpentine 2014 Pavilion is part of the history of small romantic constructions seen in parks or large gardens, the so-called follies, which were hugely popular from the end of the 16th century to the start of the 19th.

The sensation will be that the entire volume is floating

‘Externally, the visitor will see a fragile shell suspended on large quarry stones. This shell, white, translucent and made of fibreglass, will house an interior organised around an empty patio, from where the natural setting will appear lower, giving the sensation that the entire volume is floating.

‘At night, thanks to the semi-transparency of the shell, the amber tinted light will attract the attention of passers-by like lamps attracting moths.’

In recent years the coveted commission has been awarded to established names such as Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas and Frank Gehry, but last year saw young up-and-coming Japanese talent Sou Fujimoto awarded the prized job and the appointment of Radic continues this run of rising stars.

Fujimoto’s cloud-like structure was visited by almost 200,000 people in 2013 and was one of the most visited Pavilions to date.

Radic has rarely built out of his home country of Chile. His major projects include a number of private houses and restaurants in his home town of Santiago, Chile. 

He trained at the School of Architecture at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile and at the Institutto Universitario do Archittetura de Venice before setting up his own practice in the Chilean capital in 1995.

In 2001 Radic was named the best architect under 35 years old by the Chile College of Architects, and in 2009 he was appointed an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects.

Serpentine Gallery directors Julia Peyton-Jones and Hans Ulrich said: ‘We are thrilled that Smiljan Radic has designed the Pavilion this year.

‘We have been intrigued by his work ever since the first encounter at the Sejima Architecture Biennale in Venice in 2011.

Radic’s designs for the Pavilion look excitingly futuristic

‘Radic is a key protagonist of an amazing architectural explosion in Chile. While enigmatically archaic, in the tradition of romantic follies, Radic’s designs for the Pavilion also look excitingly futuristic, appearing like an alien space pod that has come to rest on a Neolithic site.

‘We cannot wait to see his Pavilion installed on the Serpentine Gallery’s lawn this summer.’

Key projects by Smiljan Radic

Chilean House 1, Rancagua, Chile

2005-2006: Chilean House 1, Rancagua, Chile

House A, Vilches, Chile

2008: House A, Vilches, Chile

Mestizo Restaurant, Santiago, Chile

2005-2007: Mestizo Restaurant, Santiago, Chile

House for the Poem of the Right Angle, Vilches, Chile

2010-2012: House for the Poem of the Right Angle, Vilches, Chile

Previous pavilion designers

2013 Sou Fujimoto

2012 Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei

2011 Peter Zumthor

2010 Jean Nouvel

2009 Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, SANAA

2008 Frank Gehry

2007 Olafur Eliasson and Kjetil Thorsen

2006 Rem Koolhaas and Cecil Balmond, Arup

2005 Álvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura with Cecil Balmond, Arup

2004 MVRDV with Arup (un-realised)

2003 Oscar Niemeyer

2002 Toyo Ito and Cecil Balmond with Arup

2001 Daniel Libeskind with Arup

2000 Zaha Hadid


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Readers' comments (1)

  • Pity! I don't like it at all. Not friendly, literally throwing stones to Hyde Park. Radic seems good but unfortunetly not here.
    Please don't build it.

    Eugenio Aguinaga

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