For the last 15 summers, London’s Serpentine Gallery has commissioned a temporary pavilion to sit on its manicured lawn in the middle of Hyde Park. With a bucolic backdrop of towering trees, winding paths, swathes of grass and of course the serpentine lake itself, the structure kicks off with a fantastic setting. Better still, this year’s worm-like or womb-like tent designed by subversive Spanish practice, SelgasCano (that’s José Selgas and Lucia Cano), is totally bewitching.
Iridescent colour shimmers and flickers over the semi-transparent surface with changing light and time of day, and at last night’s opening, the setting sun had a field day. Clouds came and went, the light intensified and shadows lengthened, altogether creating a mesmerising, surreal quality.
The material is a fluorine-plastic fabric stretched over curved metal ribs which in some areas incorporates an extra corridor outside the main twisting tunnels. Inspired by London’s tube? Apparently yes, as you might gather from below, but the zingy colour comes straight from sunny Spain, or in SelgasCano’s case, straight from Madrid.
Other areas of the tubes are covered with cross-hatched, coloured webbing. Looking through them makes any figure inside look obliterated – or cancelled out. Goodbye.
The incredible forms have inspired all sorts of epithets – “psychedelic pupa” – “supercharged wormholes” “alien glow-worm” and not least, “Instagrammers’ paradise”. Because it’s such a wonderworld of shadows, light, hues and abstract shapes that it’s hard to take a bad pic. The main point though is that you have to enter the pavilion to appreciate its morphing splendour. Here are more glimpses –
Even if until now they’ve been little known outside Spain, SelgasCano are in the best company, as previous architects who have graced the lawn include luminaries such as Oscar Niemeyer, Peter Zumthor, Toyo Ito, Zaha Hadid, Herzog & de Meuron, Frank Gehry and Jean Nouvel. Not exactly unknown.
The purpose of the pavilion is to provide a summer events space – many of them corporate parties before the big holiday exodus – as well as an outdoor café run by London’s top deli, Fortnum & Mason. This year the architectural brief also mentioned the word ‘party’ – so who better to execute it than a cool young Spanish duo, unknown outside the peninsula but clearly now destined for glory. They certainly let rip. As did this male guest (below) at the opening – certainly dressed for the occasion.
Behind the plastic tunnels sits the Serpentine Gallery itself, a landmark of London’s contemporary art scene since 1970, topped by an iconic tower from its original 1930s function as a tea-house. Meanwhile, Hyde Park looked its pastoral best, the dreamy lake and deepening shadows creating yet another dimension – albeit this time very English .
Don’t miss the experience from June 25 – October 18 2015, with live events held on Friday evenings between July and September