Serpentine Gallery pavilion by SANAA



Here are the first official photos of this year's Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in Kensington Gardens, London, designed by Japanese designers SANAA. Update: this project is included in Dezeen Book of Ideas, which is on sale now for £12.


The surrounding park is reflected in the temporary structure's aluminium roof, which is shaped to curve around trees on the site and varies in height.


Curved walls made of transparent acrylic surround a cafe and auditorium under this canopy. The pavilion opens to the public on Sunday and will remain in place until 18 October. Photographs are by Luke Hayes.


A program of events called Park Nights will be hosted in the auditorium including performances, talks and screenings, and culminating in the Serpentine Gallery Poetry Marathon in October.

See our previous story for more details about this project. See also Dezeen's top ten stories about pavilions.

More Dezeen stories about Serpentine Pavilions:

Serpentine Pavilion 2008 by Frank Gehry
Serpentine pavilion 2007 by Olafur Eliasson and Snøhetta
Lilas (temporary pavilion 2007) by Zaha Hadid

Posted on Wednesday July 8th 2009 at 2:54 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • White paper

    For the first time a real pavilion….. light, beautifully temporary and poetic

  • @white: especially in light of last year’s Gehery monster.

    You had to like Koolhaas’s balloon, though.

  • ste

    the lack of precision with the mirrors destroys the poetic part.

  • kumakuma

    love love love

  • Luxury Larry

    oh i am really excited to see it on sunday!! can’t wait!!

  • It looks like it might be a real pavilion indeed: a building which is not a real building, and concedes much of its identity to a greater idea, playing the part of observer in a much larger, man-made setting. Will have to see it in reality of course. The balloon was a bit of a disaster! The renderings of it were very intriguing, but the real thing was lumpen and oppressive. Toyo Ito’s pavilion was probably the most pavilion-like, and enchanting, of all of them to date.

  • vincent

    i am really curious about the roof’s material.
    it looks like concrete? or metal ?

  • gab xiao

    a serene building, that brings the park in. one almost forgets many of the previous pavilions in Kensington Gardens (except for Ito’s, of course)

    perhaps it’s just about time Western architecture should reconsider its formalistic attitude

  • hugo

    @vincent: if you read the text carefully it says it is an aluminium roof.

  • Besides Toyo Ito’s legendary pavilion, SANAA have created the most beautiful Serpentine Gallery pavilion ever, for sure.
    It would be a great opportunity for Kensington Gradens/Hide Park and London if it could be re-constructed in a different location within Hide Park, once it has to be disintegrated from the Serpentine’s site.

    Christoph Vogl, cheungvogl

  • Alienz

    This pavilion will lift off and return like a boomerang to destroy Koolhaas’ inflated balloon with laserz.

  • jzhou

    just do not like it,,,,

  • d

    great.. i think it have a very strong temporary-ness, and the space below seems left uncertain and create a lot of possibilities , blurring the boundary like the space is melting, just beautiful..

  • one

    wonderful truly as the words says wonderul. Better than anything that I have seen in this place. Wonderful.

  • Max

    I work for the company that had to build it. It is 3mm ali sheet on both faces with a core of 18mm plywood. I am not sure what the comment about lack of precision is all about. It was cut on a 3-axis CNC maching from the client’s computer model. It should be accurate to within half a mil….

  • bibo architect

    DOn’t like it too… nothing creating in it!

  • lmnop


  • Filip

    I think they mean that the surface doesn’t seem completely smooth. It’s nicer than the renderings first suggested, not sure about the floor or the marble appearance of the topside of the roof, but i guess with the budget the best parts had to be focused on.

  • freedom

    they nailed it.

  • Looking forward to seeing it. I was impressed with their work at an exhibition at the Basilica Palladiana in Vicenza four years ago. Here is a link to a film some of my students made of the New Museum in New York

  • Dan

    @ Hugo,

    I think Vincent may be right and that it could be a concrete roof. Despite what the description says about the reflective roof, it is very clear from the images that while the ceiling/soffit may be reflecting, the roof is about at mirrored as a Rhino’s hindquarters. It does look as though concrete, or a cold-apply roof membrane has been utilized.

  • Max

    Trust me Dan, it’s ali. It only looks that way because it is wet. It used 300 sheets of 3M x 1.5M x 3mm ali sheet.

  • d

    it took me a little to form an opinion on this- i was really unsure about those renderings – these photos are really starting to sell me on the project. – it is like a donald judd piece crossed with miesian elegance but almost more quietly graceful than either.

    this is a really surprising project

    that said- i still don’t like those renderings aesthetically, though i appreciate that they were convincing enough to get the real thing built

    and i can buy into the dematerialization so much more now that i can see the materials and that they are not killing the super light ness of the concept

    sanaa are good

  • MAD*arx

    apart from the surprising project in its simplicity, I also think it was the perfect response to a credit-crunched 2009