Frida Escobedo’s Serpentine Pavillion 2018

Mexican architect Frida Escobedo is the 18th and youngest architect yet to accept the invitation to design a temporary Pavilion on the Serpentine Gallery lawn in Kensington Gardens. The 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.

Serpentine Galleries Artistic Director Hans Ulrich Obrist and CEO Yana Peel selected this year’s architect, with advisors David Adjaye and Richard Rogers.

Escobedo’s Pavilion takes the form of an enclosed courtyard, comprised of two rectangular volumes positioned at an angle. While the outer walls will be aligned with the Serpentine Gallery’s eastern façade, the axis of the internal courtyard will align 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 have been used in the Pavilion’s construction, chosen for their dark colours and textured surfaces. A celosia – a traditional breeze wall also common to Mexican architecture – is 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 emphasise the movement of light and shadow inside the Pavilion over the course of the day. The curved underside of the canopy will be clad with mirrored panels, and a triangular pool cast into the Pavilion floor will trace its boundary directly beneath the edge of the roof, along the north axis of the Meridian. 

The Serpentine Pavilion 2018 will once again be a platform for Park Nights, the Serpentine’s annual programme of experimental and interdisciplinary evenings on selected Fridays. Practitioners in the fields of art, architecture, music, film, theory and dance will be commissioned to create new, site-specific works in response to Escobedo’s design, offering unique ways of experiencing architecture and performance.

Escobedo’s prize-winning work in urban reactivation ranges from housing and community centres to hotels and galleries.

Her designs have featured at the Venice Architecture Biennale (2012 and 2014), the Lisbon Architecture Triennale (2013), and in San Francisco, the V&A courtyard in London and works also in New York. 

The Serpentine Pavilion 2018 will be open every day from 10am to 6pm, excluding 18/19 June when it will close, re-opening at 1pm on 20 June.

Serpentine Pavilion 2018, designed by Frida Escobedo, Serpentine Gallery, London

15 June – 7 October 2018

© Frida Escobedo, Taller de Arquitectura, Photography © 2018 Iwan Baan

June 2018 Nicky’s World