Serpentine Pavilion 2021

New Serpentine Pavilion Opens After One-year Delay

After the long wait, the highly anticipated Serpentine Pavilion in Hyde Park offers a different and interesting architectural approach into local place making.

The structure is designed by the Johannesburg-based practice Counterspace, directed by Sumayya Vally, who is the youngest architect to have designed a Serpentine Pavilion. The high pillars and circular shape make the design look timeless, like and ancient roman temple. But the details of shapes inside are more random and unexpected.

Gathering spaces

The successfulness of the building is a result of the fact that Sumayya Vally spent four months living in London, exploring and researching “places of meeting, organising and belonging.” Her research and foundation for the concept became from exploring “diasporic and cross-cultural communities”. She particularly sought out “lost and vulnerable spaces and places both existing and erased”. 

By focusing on immigration theme she created a hybrid of forms and shapes that represent what is London vs. what is not – simultaneously. Immigrants belong to more than one place and identity.

As a result, the structure feels both open and inviting, but also very intimate. Like the best gathering spaces, it has an organic nature that invites possibility.

First time the pavilion has also“fragments” of the design distributed to four locations elsewhere in London.

Negative carbon

During the build of the structure, there was a media reaction against it at one point. The large amounts of cement seemed to be used, but the fact is that the project will probably have a negative carbon end result. Timber and cork materials dominate the structure. In fact, the pillars are made of plywood coated in cement and using recycled steel tubes.

“Even though the pavilion will be dismantled at the end of the summer, the assessment assumes the pavilion will have a service life of 60 years”.

Watch Sumayya Vally talking about designing the pavilion


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