The 2018 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion designed by Mexican architect Frida Escobedo was unveiled today in London’s Hyde Park. Harnessing a subtle interplay of light, water, and geometry, her atmospheric courtyard-based design draws on both the domestic architecture of Mexico and British materials and history, specifically the Prime Meridian line at London’s Royal Observatory in Greenwich.
Escobedo – born in 1979 in Mexico City – is the 18th and youngest architect yet that accepted the invitation to design a temporary Pavilion on the Serpentine Gallery lawn in Kensington Gardens. This pioneering commission, which began in 2000 with Zaha Hadid, has presented the first UK buildings of some of the biggest names in international architecture. In recent years, it has grown into a hotly anticipated showcase for emerging talent, from Sou Fujimoto of Japan to Selgascano of Spain and Bjarke Ingels of Denmark.
Escobedo’s Pavilion takes the form of an enclosed courtyard, comprised of two rectangular volumes positioned at an angle. While the outer walls are aligned with the Serpentine Gallery’s eastern façade, the axis of the internal courtyard is aligned directly to the north. Internal courtyards are a common feature of Mexican domestic architecture, while the Pavilion’s pivoted axis refers to the Prime Meridian, which was established in 1851 at Greenwich and became the global standard marker of time and geographical distance.
British-made materials were used in the Pavilion’s construction, chosen for their dark colors and textured surfaces. A celosia – a traditional breeze wall also common to Mexican architecture – is here composed of a lattice of cement roof tiles that diffuse the view out into the park, transforming it into a vibrant blur of greens and blues from within. Two reflecting elements will emphasize the movement of light and shadow inside the Pavilion over the course of the day.
The curved underside of the canopy was clad with mirrored panels, and a triangular pool cast into the Pavilion floor traces its boundary directly beneath the edge of the roof, along with the north axis of the Meridian. As the sun moves across the sky, reflected and refracted by these features, visitors may feel a heightened awareness of time spent in play, improvisation and contemplation over the summer months.
The Serpentine Pavilion 2018 will be open every day from June 15th to October 7th, 2018, from 10 am to 6 pm, excluding 18/19 June when it will close, re-opening at 1 pm on 20 June.