Jean Nouvel :: summer pavilion for the Serpentine Gallery

French architect Jean Nouvel has designed the pavilion for the Serpentine Gallery, a striking all-red structure set amid the sun-baked greenery of Kensington Gardens in London. This is the 10th realized summer project from the Serpentine Gallery and it follows in the footsteps of previous architects like Oscar Niemeyer, Zaha Hadid, Toyo Ito and Rem Koolhaas. The Serpentine pavilion is traditionally designed by an architect who has yet to build or complete a building in Britain. The 2010 pavilion, however, is only just ahead of the game: this autumn sees the opening of Nouvel’s One New Change, a controversial shopping and office complex to the east of St Paul’s Cathedral.

What inspired this rhapsody in red? “It was that moment,” says Jean Nouvel, “when the summer sun catches you full in the eyes and, as you blink, the world dissolves into red. In one way, the pavilion is a sun machine, a way of directing sunlight. In another, it is a fragile flower that rises in the park in the summer sun, wilts in the autumn and then vanishes. Of course, red is also the colour of London in some ways – the buses, the pillar boxes, the soldiers for the Queen – but mostly red is about the sun. I want it to catch and filter emotions, to be a little place of warmth and delight. For an architect, it’s always a pleasure to work with a programme that has no great consequences – the pavilion comes, the pavilion goes. It leaves an impression, echoes of emotion, nothing more. In this way, the architect is free to be the artist. It’s a building from a dream that allows us to have some little, I hope happy, sensations. It’s architecture on holiday.”

More info on the Serpentine Gallery website.

Photography: ©2010brancolina, all rights reserved

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