Serpentine Gallery Pavilion by Jean Nouvel


Serpentine Pavilion by Jean Nouvel

Here are the first official photos of the 10th Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in Kensington Gardens, London, designed by French architect Jean Nouvel. Update: this project is included in Dezeen Book of Ideas, which is on sale now for £12.

Serpentine Pavilion by Jean Nouvel

The geometric structure combines lightweight translucent facade materials, retractable awnings and a 12 metre cantilevered wall.

Serpentine Pavilion by Jean Nouvel

The striking red colour of the pavilion contrasts with the surrounding park and refers to iconic symbols of London.

Serpentine Pavilion by Jean Nouvel

An auditorium will host the Park Nights programme of public talks and events and also a public café.

Serpentine Pavilion by Jean Nouvel

The temporary structure is the first building to be completed in the UK by Nouvel.

Serpentine Pavilion by Jean Nouvel

The pavilion opens to the public this Saturday the 10th and remains open until 17 October.

Serpentine Pavilion by Jean Nouvel

Photographs are by Philippe Ruault.

Serpentine Pavilion by Jean Nouvel

See our previous story about this year's pavilion here.

Serpentine Pavilion by Jean Nouvel

See also Dezeen’s top ten: pavilions

Here's more info from the Serpentine Gallery:

10th Serpentine Gallery Pavilion Designed by Jean Nouvel 10 July – 17 October 2010

In 2010 the Serpentine Gallery celebrates its 40th anniversary. This year the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion is designed by world-renowned French architect Jean Nouvel. This is the 10th commission in the Gallery’s annual architectural series, the world’s first and most ambitious programme of its kind. It will be the architect’s first completed building in the UK.

Serpentine Pavilion by Jean Nouvel

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. The colour reflects the iconic British images of traditional telephone boxes, post boxes and London buses.

Serpentine Pavilion by Jean Nouvel

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. Striking glass, polycarbonate and fabric structures create a versatile system of interior and exterior spaces.

Around the Pavilion, Nouvel has created spaces for outdoor enjoyment and play, bringing the tradition of French civic parks to London. Red table tennis tables, draughts, chess, frisbees and kites will be available for the public to play with throughout the summer months.

The flexible auditorium will accommodate the Serpentine Gallery café and the Gallery’s Park Nights programme which culminates in the 5th Serpentine Gallery Marathon: The Marathon of Maps for the 21 Century on 16 and 17 October.

Serpentine Pavilion by Jean Nouvel

Maps have a powerful hold on our imaginations, defining our understanding of geography, scale, space 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, NewYork (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 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.

Serpentine Pavilion by Jean Nouvel

Jean Nouvel has worked 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 designed the 10th Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, the only commission of its kind worldwide that annually invites pre-eminent architects to complete their first built 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.

Serpentine Pavilion by Jean Nouvel

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.’

See also:


Serpentine Gallery Pavilion
photographed by Iwan Baan
Serpentine Gallery Pavilions
over the years
All our stories about
Jean Nouvel

Posted on Tuesday July 6th 2010 at 2:59 pm by Brad Turner. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • edward

    Ah…No comment. I will be interested in hearing the London based viewers comments.

  • Martyn

    Very nice. More colour in our lives cannot be a bad thing. One of the nicest yet.

  • Dr Evil

    How about Parc de la Villette 2, The return of the red folly! Its a little bit of a stretch to call this his first completed building in London, since One New Change started way before the this- and is pretty much finished now. Having said that- I do like it, and it is still a great part of an ambitious program for Architecture in London…

  • Juice Major

    Dr Evil, read BD, some lame excuse given my the Serpetine panel on why he was chosen.

    Anyway, I like the pavilion. Just not quite sure how comfortable it is being inside with all the space flooded with red hue.But I’ll juge it when I am int here this weekend!

  • Jill


  • anon

    The Serpentine Pavilion is a temporary structure. The best iterations of it have been those that capitalize on this attribute and take risks which would be negligent/naive if used on a more permanent structure. This is a perfect example. What better place to really play with saturated color and light. The red I see as more of a color counterpoint to the green field in which it sits rather than a homage to Parc de la Villette…and I agree, while technically this is the “first structure to be completed” by JN in the UK this really seems like an underhanded compliment as One Change is ready to go…perhaps the Brits are still touchy about a Frenchman building on their soil?

  • tanya telford – T

    have just watched – – & as i walked by the other day (as it was going up) it definitely made me smile so reckon its for sure capable of allowing some positive moments,

  • considering his last 20 years of practice….this is maybe the only project from Nouvel that I really like. He kind of found what he once had in his “youth”

  • I love colour and the contrast it makes with the greenery of the park. The stairs are breathtaking!!! But the interiors I don’t understand fully

  • Simon

    isn’t red supposed to make you feel more aggressive?

    Like a bull to a red cloth, I wonder if people will flock?

  • tommo from hcmc

    I’m seeing red, but i’m not complaining… for a project that’s attracted so much criticism the result is profound yet so simple.

  • aje


  • I can’t really make sense of this building through the photographs. But yes it does seem Parc de la Villette 2-ish. Which isn’t a bad thing, I love PdlV. The only problem is that it seems rather closed off. Hopefully it will be completely open to the pubic at some point, ie those irritating fences will go down?

  • jeanpierre

    color doesn’t make everything.
    such a pity that the table tennis concept got screwed, that was one strong idea

  • ibon

    PASSION! but hot…



  • Davide

    yeah let’s have a coffee and get blind!

  • Pier

    red Ferrarai, red Ducati, red Valentino, Red Campari Red..Nouvel new like its name!

  • SarahdeK

    Jean Nouvel hasn’t done anything good since the Institute du Monde Arab in 1989. Typical example of an architect who designs for his ego rather than a useful space for the public.

  • gozzillo

    Roxanne… there’s no red light to put on tonight …

  • yrag

    Red overkill!

  • cacas


  • Név*

    wow, color:O
    that”s something that hasn’t been at any serpentine pavilion over the past,
    reallly cool. :)

  • Fizz

    The colour I can live with, so too the idea of playfulness. There is for instance adjacent to an exterior mirror wall a complementary revolving mirror section which when swung at an angle, reflects part of the interior and allows also a partial see-through view to the external rear garden. This seems quirkily at times to be an extension of the reflection of the mirrored wall facing you. But on the whole, as an innovative architectural construction there have been far more successful Pavilion designs in the past in terms of structure and materials used – plus overall aesthetic satisfaction. 7/10. And, oh, by the way, the red awning covering the seating area in the back does not offer shade on a hot day so much as uncomfortably trapping the heat.

  • Tanisha

    I have vistied it and I have to say that as much as the structure is beautiful, the red is too overpowering to the extent that it made me so incomfortable and gave me a headache. After having a coffee there I simply needed to get out and relax my eyes and look at another color!
    It works as a balanced sculpture but not as a habitable space.