Jean Nouvel to design Serpentine Gallery Pavilion


French architect Jean Nouvel will design this year's Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, the London gallery has announced. Update: this project is included in Dezeen Book of Ideas, which is on sale now for £12.

Nouvel is the tenth architect to be selected for the annual project to design a temporary structure in front of the gallery in Kensington Gardens.

Related: Serpentine Gallery Pavilions over the years; all our stories about Jean Nouvel.

The following information is from the Serpentine Gallery:

Jean Nouvel commissioned to design 10th Serpentine Gallery Pavilion

5 July – 20 October 2010

In its 40th anniversary year, the Serpentine Gallery is delighted to announce that the 10th Serpentine Gallery Pavilion is being designed by world-renowned French architect Jean Nouvel. This year’s Pavilion is the 10th commission in the Gallery’s annual series, the world’s first and most ambitious architectural programme of its kind. It will be the architect’s first completed building in the UK.

The Pavilion commission has become an international site for architectural experimentation and follows a long tradition of Pavilions by some of the world’s greatest architects. The immediacy of the commission – a maximum of six months from invitation to completion – provides a unique model worldwide.

The design for the 2010 Pavilion is a contrast of lightweight materials and dramatic metal cantilevered structures. The entire design is rendered in a vivid red that, in a play of opposites, contrasts with the green of its park setting. In London the colour reflects the iconic British images of traditional telephone boxes, post boxes and London buses.

The building consists of bold geometric forms, large retractable awnings and a freestanding wall that climbs 12m above the lawn, sloping at a gravity defying angle. It experiments with the idea of play in its incorporation of the French tradition of outdoor table-tennis. Striking glass, polycarbonate and fabric structures create a versatile system of interior and exterior spaces. The flexible auditoria will accommodate the Serpentine Gallery Park Nights and Marathon and the changing summer weather.

The Pavilion will host the 5th Serpentine Gallery Marathon, The Marathon of Maps for the 21 Century. Maps have a powerful hold on our imaginations, defining our understanding of scale, space, time and ideas. Artists, writers, thinkers and scientists will present maps encompassing their experience of the world today.

Jean Nouvel is responsible for the design of over 200 buildings the world over, including the Copenhagen Concert Hall (2009); the Ferrari Factory, Modena (2009); Pavilion B at the Genoa Trade Fair (2009); 40 Mercer Street, New York (2008); the Musée du quai Branly, Paris (2006); the extension to the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2006); the Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis (2001); the Los Leeum Museum of Modern Art, Seoul (2004); the Torre Agbar, Barcelona (2000); the Culture and Congress Centre, Lucerne (2000), and the Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris (1989).

Nouvel’s body of work is unparalleled in its innovation and range. His approach is characterised by a conceptual rigour, rather than by an overarching aesthetic. He emphasises research, analysis and discussion, creating designs that are highly individual to each project. A key part of Nouvel’s process is his embrace of other disciplines, including music, literature and the moving image.

The Pavilion will also be the location for the Serpentine’s presentation of the renowned French artist Christian Boltanski’s acclaimed installation, Heartbeat. In this work, visitors are invited to contribute a recording of their heartbeat to an archive in a specially designed booth. The archive will be housed permanently on the uninhabited island of Ejima, Japan. The project has been ongoing since 2008 when it began as Les archives du cœur, a central installation in Boltanski’s exhibitions at Magasin 3, Stockholm, and at la maison rouge, Paris, as part of the 37th Festival d’Automne à Paris.

Nouvel’s Serpentine Gallery Pavilion will operate as a public space, a café and as a venue for Park Nights, the Gallery’s acclaimed programme of public talks and events, attracting up to 250,000 visitors every summer. The Pavilion will open in July on the Serpentine Gallery’s lawn, where it will remain until October. Nouvel will work with the structural design and engineering firm Arup, led by David Glover and Ed Clark with Cecil Balmond, to realise this project.

Julia Peyton-Jones, Director, and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-Director, Serpentine Gallery, said: “We could not be more thrilled that Jean Nouvel has accepted our invitation to design the 10th Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, the only commission of its kind worldwide that annually invites pre-eminent architects to complete their first build structure in England. It is an honour to bring Nouvel’s globally acclaimed work to London for everyone to enjoy.”

There is no budget for the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion commission. It is paid for by sponsorship, sponsorship help-in-kind and the sale of the finished structure, which does not cover more than 40% of its cost. The Serpentine Gallery collaborates with a range of companies and individuals whose support makes it possible to realise the Pavilion. On the occasion of the 10th anniversary we are delighted the Pavilion is being supported by Arts Council England, through its Sustain programme.

Moira Sinclair, Executive Director of Arts Council England, London said: ‘Our Sustain fund was established to help support artistic excellence in the context of the economic downturn, and the Serpentine Pavilion is a landmark example - uniquely special to and beloved by London, and a key 'moment' on the international visual arts and architectural calendars. I am delighted that this grant, alongside our core funding to the Gallery, will help ensure a stunning Pavilion for 2010 that will inspire, intrigue and entertain everyone who explores it.'

Arup will provide all the engineering and specialist design solutions for the Pavilion. Arup Director David Glover commented: “It is a privilege to support the Pavilion programme again this year on its 10th anniversary. Arup’s commitment to the Serpentine Pavilion reflects our belief in the project and the positive experience our teams get from working with some of the most exciting architects of our time. Ateliers Jean Nouvel are renowned for taking a rigorous and contextual approach to design which brings delight and surprise to all their projects. This year’s Pavilion is sure to be no exception.”

Peter Rogers, Director of Stanhope, will donate his expertise to all aspects of the Pavilion. He said: “The Serpentine Pavilion is a unique project whose innovative and challenging designs transcend normal building projects as well as fusing art and architecture in an exciting built form.”

Notes to Editors

Jean Nouvel
Jean Nouvel (b. 1945, Fumel, France) studied at the Ecole nationale supérieure des beaux-arts in Paris. From 1967 to 1970, he worked as an assistant and then as project manager to the acclaimed architects Claude Parent and Paul Virilio. Nouvel has headed his own architectural practice since 1970. In 1994 he established Ateliers Jean Nouvel, which is now one of the largest architectural practices in France with offices worldwide. Ateliers Jean Nouvel specialises in the fields of architecture, urban design, landscape design, industrial design and interior design.

Jean Nouvel has been the recipient of architecture’s most prestigious honours, including The Pritzker Architecture Prize, 2008; the Wolf Prize in Arts, 2005; the Royal Institute of British Architects Royal Gold Medal, 2001; the Premium Imperiale Prize, 2001, and others. He was made a Knight of the Légion d’Honneur in 2002, and in 1989 was awarded the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for L’Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion Commission
The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion commission was conceived by Serpentine Gallery Director, Julia Peyton-Jones, in 2000. It is an ongoing programme of temporary structures by internationally acclaimed architects and designers. The series is unique worldwide and presents the work of an international architect or design team who has not completed a building in England at the time of the Gallery’s invitation. The Pavilion architects to date are: Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, SANAA, 2009; Frank Gehry, 2008; Olafur Eliasson and Kjetil Thorsen, 2007; Rem Koolhaas and Cecil Balmond, with Arup, 2006; Álvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura with Cecil Balmond, Arup, 2005; MVRDV with Arup, 2004 (un-realised); Oscar Niemeyer, 2003; Toyo Ito with Arup, 2002; Daniel Libeskind with Arup, 2001; and Zaha Hadid, 2000. Each Pavilion is sited on the Gallery’s lawn for three months and the immediacy of the process – a maximum of six months from invitation to completion – provides a peerless model for commissioning architecture.

Park Nights, the Gallery’s acclaimed programme of public talks and events, will take place in Nouvel’s Pavilion, and will culminate in the annual Serpentine Gallery Marathon that takes place in October. 2010 is the 5th anniversary of the Marathon programme. In 2006 the Park Nights programme included the renowned 24-hour Serpentine Gallery Interview Marathon, convened by Hans Ulrich Obrist and architect Rem Koolhaas and was followed, in 2007, by the Serpentine Gallery Experiment Marathon presented by artist Olafur Eliasson and Obrist, which featured experiments performed by leading artists and scientists. In 2008, Obrist led over 60 participants in the Serpentine Gallery Manifesto Marathon, and 2009 saw the Serpentine Gallery Poetry Marathon.

Posted on Tuesday March 23rd 2010 at 9:50 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Baron
  • J*

    To “Baron” : not everything in concrete is Ando as well as not everything in red/lightweight is bernard tschumi folies… Anyway, not sure I like this pavilion.

  • bernard

    Baron – No

  • oscar

    I don’t think Nouvel can lose with this one. There’s a bar, there are table tennis tables, it’s open, it’s shady, and it’s Ferrari red. Safe in both positive and negative senses.

  • tanya telford – T

    I think it sounds fun & the exhibition sounds good too,

  • *matt

    Just add some blue outlines and its the first 3D building… when is architecture gona capitalize on 3D?

  • jeanpierre

    A huge research work from Nouvel: London phone booth are red, French people play outdoor table tennis. This building makes sense.

  • horrible haridas

    red boosts my blood pressure and i think ill need medication under that thing. that serpentine whatever-it-is gets screwed up each time by these big names.

  • FN

    I thought the Serpentine was only for architect that have never build in the UK. JN is building a commercial scheme (orrible btw) next to St. Paul in London.

  • Theo

    That’s about as subtle as a train wreck…

  • Pohl

    Well, that looks disappointing…
    looks like one of those old crappy postmodernist building. “a contrast of lightweight materials and dramatic metal cantilevered structures”.. wow great innovation indeed.
    Stararchitects should cut the crap with their description and start being honnest and straightforward. people react aggressively when they are treated like a bunch of idiots.
    who cares anyway ! just build something aesthetically fun and entertaining. that pavillon is not fun to look at…

  • JuiceMajor

    I like it already :)

  • G


    The Gallery is using the excuse that One New Change is not completed yet…..

  • ste

    if one gets the possibility to build something just for the fun of it… without any program… without limitations by building law… without restrictions by the user or the commissioner… one should really really dig deeper and try to come up with stimulating and inspiring ideas imho. i like some of the contrast ideas (red-green, leightweight-big,..) but after 5 minutes we have already forget about that because the spatial experience of this pavilion will be weak… its only about effects… really dissapointed by one more of the great architects of our time.

  • J’aime Jean Nouvel.

  • kv

    matt – 3D stands for 3 dimensional, buildings have always ‘capitalized on 3d’

  • Poster

    Folies made sense in villete as anargument for the park and how they organized the space but as the serpentine is a follie itself what’s the point so it’s Red supa cool and the contrast green and red is sooooo strong ok imagine this was your first design studioproject I bet the teacher will surely SENd You HOME CrYing

  • Marry

    Достаточно смелый цвет для итак вымирающей зеленой массы планеты. Объем не очень приятный для восприятия

  • Pony the Trap

    Reminds me of something the Dozers once made. Time will tell whether the tale tale signs of Fraggle teeth will reveal their existence in Hyde Park.

  • boredone

    its definitely time for the next generation of architects…

  • kind of appropriate for 2001 ?

    real shame…..

    why not an Irish Architect


  • Fizz

    Not worthy of its inclusion in the line of its much more successful and credible predecessors for this project.

  • Jon

    Reminiscent of Tschumi’s follies in the park…

  • fish fingers

    Trendy architects.. the Pavillion is now seen as a kind of PR stunt by most architects, its just Press/Journo w*nk which is a shame

  • Zino Davidoff

    I like it.
    So what if it isn’t ___(fill in the blank)____? Just by using such a strong color there’s a presence that can’t be denied, and it’s a pro-bono design. Sometimes architecture is a good-enough-for-who-it’s-for event, and this is for some pretty cool people, so let’s be happy and viva la difference, n’est ce pas?

  • Chi

    I love it, and especially I love the fresh bright red color. Why should things be subtle and disappear to the background? This is one is enticing and wakes you up. We need shaking up every now and then. I just hope I get a chance to visit.

  • I love Nouvel’s red!

  • there is a wall of red optical glass very interesting at the entrance of the Serpentine Gallery. I find the product design by FRED & FRED, a french compagny. the link is , a beautiful product for transition space.