For the past 16 summers, the Serpentine Galleries has brought experimental architecture to London's Hyde Park with the annual Serpentine Pavilion. The program, for which architects are invited to build a new, temporary entrance to the galleries each year, has seen dynamic projects by architects including Jean Nouvel, Sou Fujimoto, and Herzog & de Meuron.
But design innovation isn't new to Hyde Park. The site has actually been an incubator for creative ideas since the 18th century, when Queen Caroline began landscaping Kensington Gardens in the west of the park. Thinking of a garden as an encyclopedia, the Queen built Chinese bridges, Gothic huts, and Classical temples amongst the grottoes and ponds.
This summer, in addition to the annual Pavilion, the Serpentine Galleries pay tribute to Queen Caroline's artistic innovation, commissioning four international architecture firms to design a set of Summer Houses inspired by her Temple, which still stands today. Opening to the public tomorrow, the four new Summer Houses will flank this year's Pavilion, created by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels.
Now, take a closer look at all five of this summer's designs!
Architect: Bjarke Ingels (Danish, b. 1974)
Claim to Fame: Head of Bjarke Ingels Group, the architect has realized projects in his native Denmark, as well as dozens of other countries, including the U.S., Mexico, Canada, Iceland, Azerbaijan, and even Greenland. He's the winner of numerous awards, the European Prize for Architecture and the Nykredit Architecture Prize among them.
Design Highlight: Ingels's Pavilion resembles an unzipped brick wall. The stacked fiberglass frame fluidly transitions between indoor and outdoor spaces, and will house the Serpentine's summer art, dance, film, and literature series. Visitors are invited to climb up the stepped walls!
Architect: Kunlé Adeyemi (Nigerian, b. 1976)
Claim to Fame: Adeyemi is best known for his recent Makoko Floating School, a set of eco-conscious structures built to float on the lagoon in the center of Lagos, Nigeria's sprawling capital.
Design Highlight: For his Summer House, Adeyemi presents an inverse replica of Queen Caroline's Temple. With fragmented furniture blocks sitting in the grass, visitors are encouraged to engage with the environment and one another.
Architects: Frank Barkow (American, b. 1957) and Regine Leibinger (German, b. 1963) of Barkow Leibinger
Claim to Fame: The German-American architectural practice Barkow Leibinger is noted for their Biosphere in Potsdam, Germany, the Trutec Building in Seoul, South Korea, and the high-rise Tour Total in Berlin, Germany.
Design Highlight: In the 18th century, the Queen's Temple also had a companion pavilion, later demolished, on a nearby hilltop, which had a mechanism that rotated the building 360 degrees (a real feat at the time!), offering panoramic views of the park. Inspired by this now-destroyed second pavilion, Barkow Leibinger have created a structure in-the-round; visitors can enjoy views of the park from all sides of its looping walls.
Architect: Asif Khan (British, b. 1979)
Claim to Fame: Since founding his architectural firm in 2007, Khan has become known for his Olympic pavilions, including the MegaFaces project at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and the Coca-Cola Beatbox Pavilion in London in 2012.
Design Highlight: Studying the Queen's Temple, Khan realized that the architect, William Kent, aligned the building in the direction of the rising sun as it would be on March 1, the Queen's birthday. Using wavy walls and a circular enclosure, Khan pays tribute to the moment the Temple would reflect in the Serpentine lake.
Architect: Yona Friedman (Hungarian, b. 1923)
Claim to Fame: At 93, Yona Friedman has enjoyed a prolific career, championing the idea that the inhabitant is the ultimate designer of his or her living space. More than 40 books have been published about him and he's now the subject of international exhibitions, including his 2015 retrospective at the Power Station of Art in Shanghai.
Design Highlight: For his Summer House, Friedman uses a model from Spatial City, his 1959 manifesto that proffers the idea that adaptable architecture could create an elevated city, using less land space. Building a modular structure that can be disassembled and reassembled in different forms, he plays off Queen Caroline's hope that the garden would be a place of discovery and invention.
The Serpentine Pavilion and Summer Houses will be on view beginning tomorrow through October 9. For more information, see serpentinegalleries.org.
Which one is your favorite?