Olafur Eliasson and Kjetil Thorsen's Serpentine Gallery Pavilion "looked like a spinning top"

| 1 comment

Movie: Serpentine Gallery director Julia Peyton-Jones discusses the spinning top-shaped pavilion designed by Olafur Eliasson and Kjetil Thorsen in 2007 in the next instalment from our exclusive video series.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2007 by Olafur Eliasson and Kjetil Thorsen
Photograph by Luke Hayes

Danish-Icelandic artist Eliasson and Norwegian architect Thorsen of Snøhetta collaborated to design the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in 2007.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2007 by Olafur Eliasson and Kjetil Thorsen
Photograph by Luke Hayes

"It's the only time an artist has been involved in designing the pavilion," says Peyton-Jones in the movie. "We wanted to broaden out the selection to see if by introducing an artist there would be a different kind of view on the whole project. Of course, there was."

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2007 by Olafur Eliasson and Kjetil Thorsen
Photograph by Luke Hayes

Eliasson and Thorsen created a timber-clad structure with a ramp spiralling around the outside.



The sides of the ramp featured a series of white louvres made from twisted cord, but were otherwise open so that visitors could look out onto the park as they walked up.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2007 by Olafur Eliasson and Kjetil Thorsen
Photograph by Luke Hayes

"What Olafur and Kjetil designed was something that looked very much like a spinning top," Peyton-Jones says. "It was a very interesting pavilion because it was the first structure that really used the pavilion as a way of having a different kind of perspective on the park."

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2007 by Olafur Eliasson and Kjetil Thorsen
Photograph by John Offenbach

Eliasson and Thorsen's pavilion was also the first to feature more than one storey. The ramp led visitors to the central auditorium on the first level and then continued up to a viewing platform at the top.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2007 by Olafur Eliasson and Kjetil Thorsen
Photograph by Deborah Bullen

The auditorium itself, which hosted a programme of talks and other events, was bowl-shaped. Tiers of seats descended down to a central platform in the base of the pavilion.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2007 by Olafur Eliasson and Kjetil Thorsen
Photograph by John Offenbach

"At the top, the pavilion was the height of the Serpentine Gallery, but there was also a great central well where people had their coffees and their teas, which was a very different kind of dynamic," Peyton-Jones explains.


Subscribe to Dezeen's YouTube channel for the latest architecture and design movies


"What's so important about the pavilion project is that each one has its own relationship to the park, to the building to the public. This was a perfect example of all of that."

Julia Peyton-Jones
Julia Peyton-Jones. Copyright: Dezeen

This movie was filmed by Dezeen at the Serpentine Gallery in London. All images used in the movie and this story are courtesy of Serpentine Galleries.

Dezeen is looking back at each of the gallery's pavilions from 2000 to 2015 in a series of interviews. You can watch all the movies as we publish them on our YouTube playlist:

  • is there anybody out there ?

    Horrible.