Serpentine Pavilion 2015 by SelgasCano photographed by Iwan Baan


Architectural photographer Iwan Baan has captured the colourful plastic-wrapped structure designed by Spanish architects SelgasCano for the Serpentine Gallery's annual pavilion programme (+ slideshow).

Opening to the public later this week, the 15th Serpentine Gallery Pavilion was designed by José Selgas and Lucía Cano, and consists of a double-layered plastic skin in a variety of colours, wrapped around a series of metal arches.

Serpentine Pavilion designed by SelgasCano 2015

"When the Serpentine invited us to design the Pavilion, we began to think about what the structure needed to provide and what materials should be used in a Royal Park in London," said the architects.

"These questions, mixed with our own architectural interests and the knowledge that the design needs to connect with nature and feel part of the landscape, provided us with a concept based on pure visitor experience. We sought a way to allow the public to experience architecture through simple elements: structure, light, transparency, shadows, lightness, form, sensitivity, change, surprise, colour and materials."

"The spatial qualities of the pavilion only unfold when accessing the structure and being immersed within it," they added.

Serpentine Pavilion designed by SelgasCano 2015

ETFE – a kind of fluorine-based plastic – was used to create the colourful wrapping, which is transparent in some areas and opaque in others. This material has a high resistance to corrosion, and remains very strong in different temperature ranges.

Visitors can enter the pavilion through various openings. Some comprise large arched corridors, while others are more discreet, positioned at various points around the perimeter.

"Each entrance allows for a specific journey through the space, characterised by colour, light and irregular shapes with surprising volumes," said Selgas and Cano. "This is accomplished by creating a double-layered shell, made of opaque and translucent fluorine-based plastic (ETFE) in a variety of colours."

Serpentine Pavilion designed by SelgasCano 2015

At the centre of the pavilion is a large open space, allowing room for various events and performances to take place over the course of the summer. A cafe is also housed in the pavilion.

"We are also very much aware of the Pavilion’s anniversary in our design for the 15th annual commission. The structure therefore had to be – without resembling previous Pavilions – a tribute to them all and a homage to all the stories told within those designs," added the architects.

Related content: see all of our Serpentine Gallery Pavilions stories

In an exclusive interview with Dezeen, gallery director Julia Peyton Jones described the structure as a pavilion full of colour.

"It's a combination of different coloured plastics that reminded me of stained-glass windows when they first presented it to us," Peyton Jones said. "It's less to do with the extreme refinement of the process and more about things developing as they go along and the organic nature of their structure."

At the centre of the pavilion is a meeting space and cafe area, with four "tentacles" providing various access points. Strips and sheets of fluorine-plastic fabric (ETFE) are layered to create different lighting effects when the sunlight shines through the walls.

Like its predecessors, the 2015 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion is occupying a site in front of the gallery in London's Kensington Gardens.

The annual pavilion commission is awarded to different architects each year with the intention of providing the chance for them to create their first built structure in England.

Serpentine Pavilion designed by SelgasCano 2015

Previous pavilion designers have included Peter Zumthor, Herzog & de Meuron, Zaha Hadid, SANAA, and Frank Gehry. According to the gallery, the pavilion is one of the most visited architectural and design exhibitions in the world.

The 2015 Serpentine Pavilion will open on 25 June and close on 18 October. It will host a number of parties and public talks, as well as a series of evening events sponsored by fashion brand COS.

To mark the 15th anniversary of the pavilion programme, Dezeen will be publishing a series of exclusive interviews with director Julie Payton Jones, looking back at each of the designs.

Photography is by Iwan Baan.

  • wani

    You can post 10 more stories about this pavilion, but it will still remain fugly.

    • nobody

      I agree. It perfectly reflects the current archi-scene: mediocre and visually kinda cheap.

  • djnn24

    Still can’t work out if I like it or not…

  • SteveLeo

    It seems like something that cannot be shown appropriately by photographs alone.

  • True

    The emperor has no clothes.

  • N_1010

    The difference between these photos and those shown previously on Dezeen is enormous! Seems like we’ll have to wait to see it in person before judging…

  • Do we need another Serpentine Pavilion?

  • MM

    It is not the lack of straight lines that irritates architects.

    • Concerned Citizen

      LOL, yes. It’s the lack of everything else.

  • Why? To generate more disposable architecture? Be realistic, is it improving somehow the practice?

    • MM

      You are still failing to present any valid argument for not building the Serpentine Pavilions. Would you rather there was nothing in its place? How boring.

      They’re not publicly funded. They are also NOT disposable, but “temporary” (big difference) and are bought by private collectors at the end of the summer.

      I cant see any benefit in discontinuing the Serpentine Pavilion. It is a very well visited attraction in London, and many people are genuinely excited and interested to see it.

      It does contribute to architecture practice for many reasons. Architects that have previously not built in Britain are allowed to present intriguing, interesting ideas that would usually not be accepted by planning officials. The speed of delivery requires ingenuity in design and detailing.

      The pavilions also generate a lot of discussions on architecture, and whether they are successful or not, are a fantastic opportunity for showcasing creative architecture. I hope to see the Serpentine Pavilion continue every year for the foreseeable future.

      • Thanks for your reply. Elucidates a lot of questions. :)

      • janine

        One of the highlights, for me, on a recent trip to london was being there when the Serpentine Pavilion was there. In that case it was Sou Fujimoto, but I would have gone along anyway just for the treat of visiting such an iconic project.

  • higgs merino

    “A doctor can bury his mistakes, but architects can only advise their clients to plant vines.”

  • Rae Claire

    It looks like fun. I am beginning to see what cats find intriguing about those crinkly tunnels.

  • Roman

    It looks like a place that I would like to visit: so playful, so cheerful, so welcoming, so appropriate for a party. Pastel colours all over, some framed views of the surrounding park…

    I would like to check how they combine the light structure with their knowledge of the materials (transparency, reflections, constructive details, etc). Besides, I would say that there is more complexity than meets the eye. I think SelgasCano takes a step forward in the use of colour in architecture. The general public will love it.

    Also the scale in these photographs is misleading, the spaces seem to be more pleasant with visitors.

  • Oliver Pitt

    Having now been into SelgasCano’s pavilion I can say that my mind has not been changed. Why anyone wants to hang out in a polytunnel is beyond me, unless you are a strawberry.