It’s a girl. Finally, in its 18-years-long history, the Serpentine Pavilion was finally designed by another woman! Surprisingly, the first architect to introduce the tradition of the Serpentine pavilions was also female, the legendary Zaha Hadid, but has ever since been followed by a strong lead of men, from Sou Fujimoto (2013) to Bjarke Ingels (2016) and Francis Kéré last year (read here).
Every year, a Serpentine board decides on the globally-recognised architect for whom the Serpentine Pavilion becomes the first showcase in the UK. This decision is made by some of the leading voices in the industry, from Serpentine Creative Director and an iconic art curator Hans Ulrich Obrist to Serpentine CEO and an ex-Goldman Sachs trader Yana Peel.
The 2018 winner is Frida Escobedo, the Mexican City-based architect, who imitates the domestic architecture of her native country. Built from cement tiles, the structure plays with lights and shadows, catches the breeze and imitates the wind. Who would have known that so much can be done with a few of structured walls.
The Serpentine Pavilion 2018 demonstrates why not to judge a book by its cover.
The Serpentine Pavilion is meant for interaction. It serves as a cafe during the day, and as a learning space on some nights. Dropped, as if by accident, in the middle of Hyde Park, it is no surprise that many passers-by are caught by surprise by the presence of this outdoor structure.
And so how does it feel? Being an unshakeable feminist, I had high expectation from my fellow creative but, unfortunately, it did not quite come true. The first impression, disaster. Very unsurprising, very plain and cold. Upon entering the space, better. A slightly claustrophobic feeling when faced with the inner mirroring wave but more less good. After a brief circulation around the object (in and outside), I came to a conclusion that this year’s Serpentine is, again, something very new, unexpected and exciting.
Although it seems like four random walls left accidentally by the Galleries, on the inside, there is a very lively story being told by the surrounding shapes and angles, light and breeze which all come together to create a unique experience. Even if you are not too fussed about concrete, cement and metal, it is a cool experience, to say the least, to go and visit this year’s Serpentine Pavilion to see what the architecture scene has to offer and to learn how not to judge a book by its cover.
Frida has represented her country well and I am super happy to have this skilful architect on display in the iconic English park till 7 October. Pop by and grab a cuppa if you are in the area. The breeze and shadows will keep you company, even if it rains.