Serpentine Pavilion 2009 [SANAA]


While In London, I got the chance to check out SANAA’s 2009 Serpentine Pavilion. While it certainly beat the Serpentine Gallery’s repulsive Jeff Koons exhibit, in the end I was unimpressed.




The mirrored surface of the roof structure was somewhat effective at erasing the canopy, and allowing it to blend with the surrounding park, and the field of columns could have been nice, but the effect was ruined completely by the half-height plastic panels surrounding the pavilion. While I buy that these wind-blockers may have kept a few napkins from flying off, this apparent afterthought distracted from what otherwise could have been a nice piece of public sculpture, especially when it lead to moments like this:


The fire exit in this free-standing plexiglass panel underscores the uselessness of the wall: why even bother?



Finally, guards were posted to keep children (and curious architecture students) from climbing up on the roof structure. I have to think this would have been more appealing if the architects had planned on that possibility and embraced it… even if it meant erecting plastic guard rails along the roof edge…

In the end, disappointing. Their Toledo Glass Museum is much more effective at achieving the ethereality and transparency this seems to be aiming for.

However, the project is redeemed completely if you imagine the pavilion as a venue for pole-dancing competitions….

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