Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2014
by Smiljan Radić opens


News: Chilean architect Smiljan Radić has this morning unveiled his translucent and bulbous Serpentine Gallery Pavilion at Kensington Gardens in London.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2014 by Smiljan Radic
Above and main image: photography by Iwan Baan

Raised up from the ground over a series of rugged quarry stones, the cylindrical pavilion is constructed from a paper-thin layer of white fibreglass, reminiscent of papier mache wrapped around a balloon.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2014 by Smiljan Radic

Radić gave the structure a hollow centre, creating a central courtyard that is open to the sky. There are also various openings in the walls that form balconies, offering views out over the gardens.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2014 by Smiljan Radic

"I've always thought that this is a really symbolic place," Radić told journalists at the press preview earlier today. "For me this pavilion is a folly, and the folly historically is a romantic place, a place of extravagance and a place of atmosphere. So this pavilion had to both occupy and create a symbolic place."

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2014 by Smiljan Radic

Visitors can choose to either walk inside the pavilion, via a raised walkway leading up from the ground in front of the gallery, or they can stroll down underneath, where the large boulders both support the structure and offer places to sit.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2014 by Smiljan Radic

"From the outside, visitors see a fragile shell in the shape of a hoop suspended on large quarry stones. Appearing as if they had always been part of the landscape, these stones are used as supports, giving the pavilion both a physical weight and an outer structure characterised by lightness and fragility," said Radić.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2014 by Smiljan Radic

Grey wooden decking covers the floor, intended to create the feeling of a patio rather than an interior.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2014 by Smiljan Radic

Radić designed the pavilion using a series of models put together from masking tape. His intention was for the structure to feature the same handmade qualities, on a grander scale.

"I feel like a giant made this model as a gift for London," he said.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2014 by Smiljan Radic

Last year's pavilion was designed by Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto and comprised a cloud-like structure made from a lattice of steel poles. Other past commissions include Herzog & de MeuronSANAA and Peter Zumthor.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2014 by Smiljan Radic

Photography is by Amy Frearson, Dezeen, apart from where otherwise indicated.

  • pipo

    Is it made out of fibreglass re-enforced polyester? It cannot be made out of a paper thin layer of fibreglass only. Also it would be pretty fragile if the shell is really paper-thin?

    • Hi Pipo. The shell is made out of glass-reinforced plastic and it’s around 10mm thick, so it’s thin enough to be translucent. The shell is supported internally in places by steel columns.

  • Dylan

    Could you not get a view of the exterior without the large black balcony thing, or even the other side gallery. It seems like you couldn’t get a shot of the views out to the garden, the hollow centre, the underside of the gallery or its entrance. Quite frankly this is disappointing.

    I think the large black balcony doesn’t look right on a fragile and hollow structure such as this and I’m unable to really judge anything else as there are so few pictures showing a different perspective.

  • One of my first architecture professors, warned against warts. When you design something that 1) does not appear to belong, 2) appears arbitrary, and 3) could be removed without negatively effecting the design; you have a wart.

    I think in the spirit of being playful with the Serpentine Gallery, this certainly follows the tradition. The detail from window, to hollow tube, is a wart. Please remove it.

  • mik

    If the idea is to imitate nature then this is a BIG failure. I am trying to see something positive but the more I look the more it makes me feel nauseous. Especially because it’s the Serpentine Pavilion 2014! It’s like some junk travelled in time from the 60’s.

    • Not any fool

      I don’t think that’s the idea, imitate nature I mean. Radic invites us to look with significant eyes, so it has to be observed not only as an object, not only in that poor dimension that architecture forces to be pulled in this nightmare-digital-era, the “shapemakers”.

      It is not about that at all. There’s a lot to “read” about this, it’s critical about these times – where no interesting or novelty emerges from material experimentation, just a compendium of materials and technics pre-figured. Koolhaas is very critical and nihilist about this issue.

      So when you are exposed to a kind of unfinished, apparently fragile envelope, you feel just like that… vulnerable, and that makes you feel bad.

      You are not in front of an easy-to-get new Serpetine Starchitect bullsh**. Seriously, this is a very brave piece of work and there’s matter to read and discuss. Maybe it’s not beautiful or pleasant in ordinary contemporary terms, but it forces you to read this and to be critical without your scholarly frame of view.

      Try to embrace all the contradictory symbols that materials spoke, as it is, and think how brave you must be to work like this.

      • rUIPEDRo

        I agree with you but then, you’re not talking about architecture but some kind of art installation, which in my opinion shouldn’t be built in this place.

  • rmnr

    Don’t want to be disrespectful, but this is one of the worst Serpentine Gallery Pavilion designs ever! So uncreative, uninspired and so poorly constructed. Sorry, but it is just… ugly.

  • Ralph Kent

    “Cylindrical”, Dezeen?

    • When we say “cylindrical” what we really mean is “doughnut-shaped” or technically “a torus” ;-)

  • jerome


  • papou

    Love the idea. Find it very artistic and as a prototype pavilion should be, but still I have a problem with the scale. Maybe the proportions should have been more inflated. I also think the project could have been better executed as this kind of abstract expression needs a perfect translation in reality to reach all its power.

    • model maker

      Perfect translation not needed for perfect execution, in this case especially, where the idea came from a masking tape model.

      So I’m starting to think if Radic is playing with us like models in a model. Obviously this a “scale” experiment in a sort of way.


    Radic is so “awake” that he sees his models and felt in love with their material qualities, just as they are. He is not thinking of a model as a representation of something else, or other material, and he evokes this story of the giant just to justify that he see himself as a giant, making a place for us in a very literal and childish way.

  • Not any fool

    This is the only place you can do this! Since when is the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion not an arty-architectural instance? Art and architecture share a lot in common, since both disciplines work with matter and images, sculpture especially. Why deny this “historical” fact?

  • Patrick Beauchamp

    Reminds me of the Monsanto House of the Future at Disneyland circa 1956, which wasn’t (neither ugly nor of the future):