Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2011 by Peter Zumthor


Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2011 by Peter Zumthor

Here are the first official photographs of the completed 2011 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, which was unveiled today by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor. Update: this project is included in Dezeen Book of Ideas, which is on sale now for £12.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2011 by Peter Zumthor

Update 28/06/11: watch Zumthor talking about the pavilion and his work in our interview on Dezeen Screen

A planted garden by Dutch designer Piet Oudolf is enclosed at the heart of the black-painted pavilion, filled with flowers and shrubs.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2011 by Peter Zumthor

This inner garden is surrounded by a blue bench under a canopy that projects inwards from the walls.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2011 by Peter Zumthor

The pavilion is a timber framed structure covered in gauze and painted over with a black adhesive.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2011 by Peter Zumthor

A narrow corridor circulates the perimeter of the building between the facade and the garden.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2011 by Peter Zumthor

The pavilion opens to the public this Friday the 1 July and remains open until 16 October.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2011 by Peter Zumthor

It is the first building to be completed in the UK by Zumthor and will be followed next year by The Secular Retreat in Devon for Alain de Botton’s Living Architecture project.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2011 by Peter Zumthor

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Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2011 by Peter Zumthor

Photography is by Walter Herfst.

Here are some details from the Serpentine Gallery:

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2011
Designed by Peter Zumthor

The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2011 is designed by world-renowned Swiss architect Peter Zumthor. This year’s Pavilion is the 11th commission in the Gallery’s annual series, the world’s first and most ambitious architectural programme of its kind. It is the architect’s first completed building in the UK and includes a specially created garden by the influential Dutch designer Piet Oudolf.

At the heart of Peter Zumthor’s Pavilion is a garden that the architect hopes will inspire visitors to become observers. Zumthor says his design ‘aims to help its audience take the time to relax, to observe and then, perhaps, start to talk again - maybe not.’ The design emphasises the role the senses and emotions play in our experience of architecture. With a refined selection of materials Zumthor creates contemplative spaces that evoke the spiritual dimension of our physical environment. As always, Zumthor’s aesthetic goal is to customise the building precisely to its purpose as a physical body and an object of emotional experience. Zumthor has stated that ‘the concept for this year’s Pavilion is the hortus conclusus, a contemplative room, a garden within a garden. The building acts as a stage, a backdrop for the interior garden of flowers and light. Through blackness and shadow one enters the building from the lawn and begins the transition into the central garden, a place abstracted from the world of noise and traffic and the smells of London – an interior space within which to sit, to walk, to observe the flowers. This experience will be intense and memorable, as will the materials themselves – full of memory and time.’

Materials have always played an evocative as well as an essential role in the buildings designed by Zumthor. The 2011 Pavilion is constructed of a lightweight timber frame wrapped with scrim and coated with a black Idenden over scrim. Exterior and interior walls with staggered doorways offer multiple paths for visitors to follow, gently guiding them to a central, hidden inner garden. The covered walkways and seating surrounding this central space create a serene, contemplative environment from which visitors look onto the richly planted sunlit garden, the heart and focus of the building.

With this Pavilion, as with previous structures such as the famous Thermal Baths at Vals, Switzerland, or the Bruder Klaus Chapel in Mechernich, Germany, Zumthor has emphasised the sensory and spiritual aspects of the architectural experience, from the precise yet simple composition and ‘presence’ of the materials, to the handling of scale and the effect of light. Piet Oudolf is a prominent garden designer and a leading figure of the New Perennial planting movement. His award-winning designs emphasise the natural architecture of plants, using expressive drifts of grasses and herbaceous perennials to create gardens that evolve in form throughout the lives of the plants. These are chosen for their structure, form, texture and colour, showcasing many different varieties in his compositions. Oudolf has pioneered an approach to gardening that embraces the full life-cycle of plants, delighting in their beauty throughout the seasons.

Piet Oudolf said: “I am very pleased to be collaborating with Peter Zumthor and the Serpentine Gallery on this year’s Pavilion and to be part of this exciting project. My work aims to bring nature back into human surroundings and this Pavilion provides the perfect opportunity for people to reflect and relax in a contemplative garden away from the busy metropolis.”

The Serpentine’s Pavilion commission, conceived in 2000 by Gallery Director Julia PeytonJones, has become an international site for architectural experimentation and follows a decade of Pavilions by some of the world’s greatest architects. Each Pavilion is sited on the Gallery’s lawn for three months and the immediacy of the commission – a maximum of six months from invitation to completion – provides a unique model worldwide.

Julia Peyton-Jones, Director, and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-Director, Serpentine Gallery, said: “It is an honour and a great joy to be working with Peter Zumthor on the 11th Serpentine Gallery Pavilion. The commission allows us to connect with the best architects in the world and each year is an exciting and completely new experience. Zumthor’s plans will realise an exquisite space for the public to enjoy throughout the summer.”

Zumthor’s Serpentine Gallery Pavilion will operate as a public space and as a venue for Park Nights, the Gallery’s high-profile programme of public talks and events. Park Nights will culminate in the annual Serpentine Gallery Marathon in October, now in its sixth year. In 2006 the Park Nights programme included the renowned 24-hour Serpentine Gallery Interview Marathon, convened by Hans Ulrich Obrist and architect Rem Koolhaas; in 2007, the Serpentine Gallery Experiment Marathon presented by artist Olafur Eliasson and Hans Ulrich Obrist; in 2008, Obrist led over 60 participants in the Serpentine Gallery Manifesto Marathon. These were followed in 2009 by the Serpentine Gallery Poetry Marathon and in 2010 by the Serpentine Gallery Map Marathon.

  • interesting article on construction on BD

  • David

    This is a little too Zumthor. Its too heavy and lifeless for summertime pavilion. It looks like a struggle with impermanence.

  • James

    If a pavilion is designed to showcase a secluded natural space by cutting off sight lines to the park, that space you're forced to enclose yourself in should be really seductive, and worth the prolonged isolation.

    I don't think this garden space is particularly interesting. It feels somewhat dinky and appears to lack the inherent "gravitas" of the great Zumthor projects.

  • sara

    I think the aim was to withdraw you from the park, then settle you in a courtyard with a spectacular and colourful garden…. its just that the garden isn't spectacular enough to counter the brooding building.

  • Miki

    I don't agree with David. Its really Japanese and Zen envilinment. I don't understand why the architect didn't mention 'Kairo', 'Engawa' or 'Nakaniwa' which typical Japanese traditional houses have. I love the design a lot and hope if I have it at my place. Thank you fir the beautiful experience(well.. I will have very soon).

  • dolf

    To me….it's like concentration camp with a garden in the middle.

  • More mausoleum than pavilion.

  • nina Grosh

    nop nop mr Zumthor. Sad pavillion struggling for some emotion…
    Masters do fail sometimes.

  • Karlo

    @james weeb thanks for the link.
    That happens if you trust watercolor paintings more than renderings. I think he should have changed the concept once the photoshop images showed how dull it would be inside.

    • didi

      they do not use photoshop nor renderings, they make models of everything
      i think we should all go and see it in person, this is made for live experience, not photo shootig
      so, let's go people:)

      • steph

        i'm proud of you that you know so well what other people are doing, but probably you could take a look at the photoshop work they were doing for this project…

        • John

          Thats a model with a wee bit of PS. I don't find it dull inside, and the finished pavilion looks considerably less 'dull' and more alive than the drawings. The darkness in the internal corridor leading in is all about the journey. And the courtyard is opening itself out to the sky and surrounding trees, I think theres a great contrast.

          I just hope theres not hoards of people in there when i visit!

        • didi

          thank you very much for this, I saw it few months ago, but my point was that photoshop cannot be a benchmark for the quality of a project; i was in their studio: they make a real model and then they make a photoshop collages of it; my bad – they do use Photoshop after all
          Let's see our comments after we visit it, ok? cheers

          • Steph

            so, looks we were both not so precise… i agree with you that we have to visit it, but, i wasn't even judging it (by the way, i already like it now), i just wanted to say that for me the tools he was using are not so important, he could even have worked with cheap renderings, when the result is as athmospheric as that, and i believe that when you know what you want there are several ways to get it, and in photoshop you can very well test an athmosphere. so, i think we are basically saying the same, battling each other with details…

  • Andy

    people will use it – people will sit and contemplate the garden. It is simple and beautiful in its construction and as a pavilion.

  • ana

    Any opinions about the pavilion made by someone who has been inside?

  • Fritz Filter

    Dolf meets my opinion: looks like a mediocre holocaust memorial. Let us hope, that this does not mirror Peter´s inner mood…

  • Marko.Croatia

    I am not sure in this. It would have more sense if the courtyard was empty – like rioanji stone garden in Kyoto. this is then ZEN!

  • e1027

    this space being already in an urban park makes it kinda weak for me

  • Har

    The thing about Zumthor’s architecture that I come to realize is that it’s very hard to appreciate if you are not there. I mean how are we supposed to contemplate in the pavilion by just looking at photos?

    • Pom

      Zumthor is exciting for precisely because he does not design for spectacle and 2D reproduction. "How are we supposed to contemplate in the pavilion by just looking at photos?" We're not!

  • i also wonder given the last couple of very hot days in london how if black exterior will 'cook' those inside? as often the case you have to be there in person to see how it 'feels'.

  • eij

    I think that your're missing the point. Just imagine the scents in this small place. Pretty nice. Nothing flashy.
    And the plants are beatiful, love Piet Oudulfs work.
    Don't like the big words they use to describe it though.

  • israel

    obviously, somethings are invisble for the eyes…

  • abdulqadirabas

    I don't know why you guys hate him so much, he is cool and honest from the way he speaks and does work. It is a good piece of pavillion, one of the best Serpentine ever commissioned.
    I love it, the conntrast, the wild and humbleness.
    I just want to have it.

  • beautiful
    i love the gauze

  • celine

    The moment I stepped into the pavilion I felt i was in Naoshima, Japan. It has a beautiful sense of poetry and for me it definitely works as a summer pavilion. The smell you get from the sun on the dark surfaces also reminds me of the smell you get when sitting outside of an old chalet in summertime.
    Great work!