Jean Nouvel's Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in 2010 was "the first to really use colour"

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Movie: next up in our exclusive video series with Serpentine Gallery director Julia Peyton-Jones, she discusses Jean Nouvel's bright red pavilion that featured a dramatic 12-metre-high angled wall.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2010 by Jean Nouvel
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2010. Photograph by Philippe Ruault

The world-famous French architect's 2010 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion consisted of bold geometric forms rendered in a vivid red colour reminiscent of traditional London buses, telephone boxes and postboxes.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2010 by Jean Nouvel
Photograph by Philippe Ruault

"Jean Nouvel was the first architect to really use colour," Peyton-Jones says in the movie. "That searing pillar box red was remarkable, and the visual resonance against the green of the park highlighted how gorgeous the setting is."

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2010 by Jean Nouvel
Photograph by Philippe Ruault

The structure was a stark contrast to the delicate, reflective pavilion in 2009 by Japanese architects SANAA.



"Nouvel embraced the park in a very different way," Peyton-Jones says.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2010 by Jean Nouvel
Photograph by John Offenbach

Made from a steel frame clad with translucent materials, the pavilion featured retractable canvas awnings, as well as a huge sloped glass wall supported in cantilever on one side.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2010 by Jean Nouvel
Photograph by Philippe Ruault

"That great form came down as a counterbalance and was really dramatic," Peyton-Jones says. "It was a fantastically good summer, so it was possible to have the roof open and think: 'We can't be in England.'"

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2010
Photograph by John Offenbach

Visitors to the pavilion were invited to play chess or drafts inside the structure, or enjoy a game of table tennis or Frisbee on the lawn outside.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2010 by Jean Nouvel
Photograph by Philippe Ruault

"Nouvel took the idea of play very seriously," Peyton-Jones says. "The lightness of that defined the pavilion's use and ensured people experienced it in a very different way [compared to previous pavilions]."

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2010 by Jean Nouvel
Photograph by John Offenbach

The pavilion was open to the public for just over three months, but Peyton-Jones claims it quickly became a London landmark.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2010 by Jean Nouvel
Photograph by John Offenbach

"The Nouvel pavilion was one of the images used behind the news reader for the London news," she recalls.


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"It's amazing – it was here for a relatively short time, so for it to be embraced as part of London felt like a big success for the pavilion programme."

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: