The Serpentine Gallery has unveiled its latest Summer Pavilion for 2016: a complex and astounding piece of architecture which takes the form of a wall that un-zips. Bjarke Ingels, the innovative Danish creative who is said to have ‘disconnected architecture from angst’, is the face behind the design.
The 16th annual Pavilion, Ingels has created the largest addition to date with a design aesthetic that harmonises material elements that are usually incongruent: the three-dimensional building is crafted from seemingly incompatible components which are fused together; the result is a brick wall that un-zips in order to create another space for the events of the Pavilion’s summer programme.
Crafted from hundreds of individual pultruded fiberglass box sections, the overall structure is complex yet delicate, requiring a very structured assembly and construction process. The surface along the top of the wall appears like a straight line, while at the bottom, it forms an intricate valley at the entrance of the Pavilion. The side pointing in the direction of the park evokes a rolling hillside.
Other architects invited to create the Serpentine’s Summer Houses this year are Kunlé Adeyemi, Barkow Leibinger, Yona Freidman and Asif Khan, all of whom have built astounding pieces that reflect elements of both history and modernity.
We caught up with Ingels at the preview, ahead of The Serpentine Architecture Programme’s official opening on the 10th June.
Serpentine Pavilion 2016 designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG); Photo © Iwan Baan
Ray Kinsella: Talk us through what inspired the project?
Bjarke Ingels: Our work is about merging one thing with another. We take seemingly incompatible elements, fuse them together and turn them into a hybrid. So, furniture is an inspiration for the project as much as the brick wall. We’ve taken the most fundamental element of architecture – the brick wall – and unzipped it, by doing this the wall turns the line into a surface, transforming it into a space.
RK: The design is based on a structure of opposites, what’s the significance of this?
BI: Again, the idea is that it is neither one thing nor another thing – it is a mixture of different elements. It is free form on the one hand, but rigorous on the other. It is modular yet sculptural, transparent and opaque, both a solid box and a blob.
RK: And how does the Pavilion work to transform the space of the Serpentine?
BI: It creates a three dimensional environment which can be explored and experienced in different ways, both inside and outside. At the top, the wall appears like a straight line, while at the bottom, it forms a sheltered valley at the entrance of the Pavilion and an undulating hillside towards the park.
“Our work is about merging one thing with another. We take seemingly incompatible elements, fuse them together and turn them into a hybrid.”
RK: The environment plays a key role in your designs…
RK: It’s very important. It is not just about creating the role for human happiness in architecture that is important, but also the moral benefit for wildlife, as well as for people living in the city.
RK: What inspires your work more generally?
BI: I like to see what’s changing in the world in order to draw from it. The ingredients for change are already there, it’s just about utilising them.
See the full programme of Serpentine’s summer events here.