Swiss Cultural Fund UK

Swiss Cultural Fund UK

The Serpentine Summer Pavilion by Peter Zumthor_ July-October

The annual opening of the Serpentine Pavilion has become a sign that summertime has arrived in the city. This year’s Pavilion was the 11th commission in the Gallery’s annual series, the world’s first and most ambitious architectural programme of its kind. The 2011 commission went to world-famous Swiss architect Peter Zumthor.

 

 

Unlike the pavilions in recent years, which were bright and colourful, Peter Zumthor opted for a sophisticated and contemplative project – a calm place rather in the nature of a medieval monastery. Zumthor stated that ‘the concept for this year’s Pavilion is the hortus conclusus, a contemplative room, a garden within a garden. The building acts as a stage, a backdrop for the interior garden of flowers and light. Through blackness and shadow one enters the building from the lawn and begins the transition into the central garden, a place abstracted from the world of noise and traffic and the smells of London – an interior space within which to sit, to walk, to observe the flowers.’

 

 

The garden, created by the Dutch designer Piet Oudolf, was surrounded by four symmetrical open-aired corridors providing little space for the public to rest. The architect hoped it would inspire visitors to become observers of the contained nature within the space. Zumthor said his design ‘aimed to help its audience to take the time to relax, to observe and then, perhaps, start to talk again - maybe not.’ The design emphasised the role the senses and emotions play in our experience of architecture. With a refined selection of materials Zumthor aimed to create a space that evokes the spiritual dimension of our physical environment. As always, Zumthor’s aesthetic goal was to customise the building precisely to its purpose as a physical body and an object of emotional experience.