The final touches are being made to this year’s Serpentine Pavilion, designed by emerging Mexican star Frida Escobedo
The 38-year-old architect, who won the Architectural Review’s Emerging Architecture award in 2016, is the youngest ever designer to create the temporary showcase structure in Kensington Gardens. Her pavilion opens next week (15 June).
She is the 18th architect in the Serpentine Gallery’s annual pavilion programme to be given the chance to build their first structure in the UK, following in the footsteps of Toyo Ito, Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry and Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA.
Inspired by the meridian line at London’s Royal Observatory in Greenwich, Escobedo’s proposal is described as an ‘atmospheric, courtyard-based’ structure, which harnesses a subtle interplay of light, water and geometry’.
The pavilion features ‘two rectangular volumes positioned at an angle’ as well as a celosia – ‘a traditional breeze wall common to Mexican architecture’ built from a lattice of cement roof tiles which will ‘diffuse the view out into the park, transforming it into a vibrant blur of greens and blues’.
The curved underside of the pavilion’s canopy will be clad with mirrored panels, and the scheme features a triangular pool cast into the floor which will reflect the sun.
Talking about the temporary structure earlier this year, Escobedo said: ‘My design is a meeting of material and historical inspirations inseparable from the city of London itself and an idea which has been central to our practice from the beginning: the expression of time in architecture through inventive use of everyday materials and simple forms.
‘For the Serpentine Pavilion, we have added the materials of light and shadow, reflection and refraction, turning the building into a timepiece that charts the passage of the day.’
Escobedo, who is working with Aecom on the project, was chosen by Serpentine Galleries artistic director Hans Ulrich Obrist and chief executive Yana Peel with advisers David Adjaye and Richard Rogers.
Ulrich Obrist and Peel added: ‘The pavilion promises to be a place both of deep reflection and dynamic encounter. With this bold interior, Frida draws history into the present and redefines the meaning of public space. We hope visitors of all ages will create their own experiences in the pavilion this summer as we continue in our aim of bringing the urgency of art and architecture to the widest audience.’
The pavilion will be open to the public from 15 June until 7 October.
Factfile: Who is Frida Escobedo?
Born in 1979 in Mexico City, Escobedo founded her practice in 2006, after four years as co-director of the architectural firm Perro Rojo. Her award-winning work has focused mainly on reactivating urban spaces that are considered to be residual or forgotten.
In 2004 she was awarded the Scholarship for Young Creators by the National Fund for Arts and Culture (FONCA) and in 2008 she was selected by Herzog & de Meuron as one of the architectural studios to participate in the Ordos 100 Project in Inner Mongolia, China. In 2009, she was a winner of the Young Architects Forum, organised by the Architectural League of New York.
In 2013, she was selected as one of three finalists for the architecture programme at the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative and was nominated for the Arc Vision Prize for Women and the Iakov Chernikhov Prize. In 2014, she was a finalist for the Designs of the Year at the Design Museum in London and was nominated for the Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize of the Illinois Institute of Technology.
In 2014, she won the Ibero-American Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism Prize (IX BIAU) in Rosario, Argentina. In 2017, she received the Emerging Voices Award by the Architectural League of New York.
Serpentine Pavilion designers
2017 Diébédo Francis Kéré
2016 BIG - Bjarke Ingels
2014 Smiljan Radic
2013 Sou Fujimoto
2012 Ai Weiwei and Herzog & de Meuron
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 with Cecil Balmond, Arup
2005 Álvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura with Cecil Balmond, Arup
2004 MVRDV with Arup (unrealised)
2003 Oscar Niemeyer
2002 Toyo Ito with Cecil Balmond, Arup
2001 Daniel Libeskind with Arup
2000 Zaha Hadid