Serpentine Pavillon 2016 / BIG
© BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group

The Serpentine Gallery has unveiled the designs for the 2016 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in London designed by BIG. The new installation will feature a tall pointed structure made of interlocking fiberglass “bricks” showing an “unzipped wall.” Also, this year, the Serpentine Gallery will host four smaller “summer houses” designed by Kunlé Adeyemi – NLÉ, Barkow Leibinger, Yona Friedman, and Asif Khan.

BIG Serpentine Pavilion Technical Information

We have attempted to design a structure that embodies multiple aspects that are often perceived as opposites, a structure that is free-form yet rigorous, modular yet sculptural, both transparent and opaque, both solid box and blob.

– Bjarke Ingels

Serpentine Pavilion 2016 Renderings
Serpentine Pavillon 2016 / BIG
© BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group
Serpentine Pavillon 2016 / BIG
© BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group
Serpentine Pavillon 2016 / BIG
© BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group

[…] The Serpentine Pavilion, designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), is an ‘unzipped wall’ that is transformed from a straight line to a three-dimensional space, creating a dramatic structure that, by day, houses a café and free family activities and by night becomes a space for the Serpentine’s acclaimed Park Nights program of performative works by artists, writers, and musicians. […]1

Julia Peyton-Jones, Director, and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-Director, Serpentine Galleries, said:

 As you can see from the architect’s renders, Bjarke Ingels has responded to the brief for a multi-purpose Pavilion with a supremely elegant structure that is both curvaceous wall and soaring spire, that will surely serve as a beacon – drawing visitors across Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens to visit the Pavilion, the Summer Houses and our major exhibitions by Alex Katz and Etel Adnan.

– Julia Peyton-Jones

BIG Architect’s Statment

For the Serpentine Pavilion 2016, we have attempted to design a structure that embodies multiple aspects that are often perceived as opposites: a structure that is free-form yet rigorous, modular yet sculptural; both transparent and opaque; both solid box and blob.

We decided to work with one of the essential elements of architecture: the brick wall. Rather than clay bricks or stone blocks, however, the wall is erected from extruded fiberglass frames stacked on top of each other. The wall is then pulled apart to form a cavity within it to house the events of the Pavilion’s program.

This unzipping of the wall turns the line into a surface, transforming the wall into space. A complex three-dimensional environment is created that can be explored and experienced in various ways, inside and outside. At the top, the wall appears like a straight line, while the bottom of it forms a sheltered valley at the entrance of the Pavilion and an undulating hillside towards the Park.

The unzipped wall creates a cave-like canyon lit through the fiberglass frames and the gaps between the shifted boxes, as well as through the translucent resin of the fiberglass. As a result, the shifting overlaps, as well as the movement and presence of people outside, create a lively play of light and shadow on the cave walls within.

The materials include wooden floors and extruded Fiberline profiles, providing every surface with a warm glow and linear texture – from the mesh of woven glass fibers to the undulating lines of the grain of the wood. This simple manipulation of the archetypal space-defining garden wall creates a presence in the Park that changes as you move around it and as you move through it. The North-South elevation of the Pavilion is a perfect rectangle. The East-West elevation is an undulating sculptural silhouette.

Towards the East-West, the Pavilion is completely opaque and material. Towards the North-South, it is entirely transparent and practically immaterial. As a result, presence becomes absence, orthogonal becomes curvilinear, the structure becomes gesture, and the box becomes blob.

About the Serpentine Pavilion

The Serpentine’s Pavilion commission, conceived in 2000 by Director Julia Peyton-Jones, has become an international site for architectural experimentation and has presented projects by some of the world’s greatest architects. Each Pavilion is situated on the Serpentine Gallery’s lawn for four months, and the immediacy of the commission – taking a maximum of six months from invitation to completion – provides a unique model worldwide.

The selection of the architects, chosen for consistently extending the boundaries of architecture practice, is led by the Serpentine’s core curatorial thinking, introducing contemporary artists and architects to a broader audience. The brief is to design a 300-square-meter Pavilion that is used as a café by day and a forum for learning, debate, and entertainment at night. Serpentine Galleries will be partnering with Harrods for the 2016 Pavilion Café.

The Serpentine Pavilion is one of the top-ten most visited architectural and design exhibitions in the world. There is no budget for the project; it is realized through sponsorship, help-in-kind support, and the sale of the Pavilion.

  1. Serpentine Pavilion and Summer Houses 2016: Bjarke Ingels Group, Kunlé Adeymi, Yona Friedman, Asif Khan, Barkow Leibinger by Julia Peyton-Jones