The Serpentine Galleries in London consist of two contemporary Galleries (The Serpentine and the Sackler Gallery) linked by a bridge on either side of the Serpentine Lake, in The Royal Park of Kensington Gardens, London.
Since 2000, the Serpentine Gallery has commissioned a temporary annual summer Pavilion which has become one of the most sought after small scale architecture projects in the world. Each pavilion is designed by a leading Architect (who hasn't yet built in the U.K) who accepts the project as an unpaid commission.
This year's Pavilion is quite breathtaking, and the architect responsible is Chilean Smiljan Radic, perhaps the least known of his predecessors.
His aim, was to give the feeling of a structure that references the English garden folly but was fantastically created by the hands of a giant. The monolithic stones that it rests on, combined with a fragility certainly creates a spatial juxtaposition that is really unique. At the press preview, Radic commented that "For me, this pavilion is a folly, and the folly historically is a romantic place, a place of extravagance and a place of atmosphere."
We thought we should take a look at the previous year's incarnations.....
The Japanese Architect Sou Fujimoto created the 2013 Pavilion, with 20mm steel poles in a grid-like formation, which has an ethereal aspect to it, either blending in with the surrounding clouds, seeming transparent or dense depending on the angle you view it.
In 2012, the Swiss Team of Herzog & de Meuron with Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei created the oval disc of water (this can be drained in a well, leaving a viewing platform/dance floor or stage).
Underneath, there are twelve supporting columns signifying the present and previous Pavilions.
There was another collaborative effort in 2011 by Swiss Architect Peter Zumthor with the garden design by Piet Oudolf. Peter has become more and more passionate about the gardens that surround our living spaces, and so was keen to design a building that really acted as a frame to the garden. The garden acts as something to experience and observe, walk around but not in.
French architect Jean Nouvel, designed the 2010 pavilion below. This playful design (it features an outdoor table tennis table) references iconic London images (post boxes, double decker buses, telephone boxes etc) through it's red colour scheme.
2009 was the year for the Japanese architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA. Describing their structure the architects said: "The Pavilion is floating aluminium, drifting freely between the trees like smoke. The reflective canopy undulates across the site, expanding the park and sky. It's appearance changes according to the weather, allowing it to melt into the surroundings. It works as a field of activity with no walls, allowing views to extend uninterrupted across the park and encouraging access from all sides. It is a sheltered extension of the park where people can read, relax and enjoy lovely summer days."
The U.S architect Frank Gehry collaborated with his son Samuel on his first UK project here in 2008. In the Gallery's press statement Frank Gehry said: ' The Pavilion is designed as a timber structure that acts as an urban street running from the park to the existing gallery. The Pavilion is much like an amphitheatre, designed to serve as a place for live events, music, performance, discussion and debate."
The 2007 Pavilion was a collaboration between artist Olafu Eliasson and Norwegian architect Kjetil Thorsen of Snohetta. The previous year by Rem Koolhaas and Cecil Balmond featured a helium-filled roof that changed according to the weather - both have an almost other-wordly, galactic feel about them.
2005 brought about a Portuguese architects Álvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura, with British-based Cecil Balmond. Internally the space seemed almost cavernous, - note that the walls don't meet the ground - adding to this expansive sense of space and at night, individual solar panels in each roof panel come on one by one.
We skip a year in 2004 as the design by Dutch Architects MVRDV proved in the end, too complex to achieve. In contrast to this, the 2003 pavilion by Brazilian Oscar Niemeyer is the result of his ethos that each project must be capable of summary in a simple sketch and once the support structure is finished the architecture should be more or less complete.
The first three years of the Serpentine Pavilion seem to have an triangular aesthetic in common.
Toyo Ito (with Cecil Balmond) were responsible for the 2002 Pavilion where a cube was created using an intersecting pattern of triangles and trapezoids, both transparent and translucent. Daniel Libeskind designed the striking Pavilion in 2001 titled '18 turns' and referencing origami, and the inaugural Pavilion by Iraqi/British Architect Zaha Hadid significantly re-interpreted the idea of a marquee (a typical fixture at British Summer Seasonal events).
We think that each Pavilion has pushed the boundaries in some way - but that the most recent ones have blurred the lines between building and sculpture.
Have you got a favourite?