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Serpentine Galleries construction starts

Preparations for the Serpentine Galleries’ annual architecture programme are underway with the start of construction on this year’s key structures.

The event will include four Summer Houses, located near the gallery in Kensington Gardens, as well the 2016 Serpentine Pavilion on the gallery lawn.

For the fourth consecutive year, Aecom is delivering technical advisory services for the project, including structural engineering, fire engineering and project management.

This year AKT II has joined the technical team to provide structural engineering services for the main Pavilion’s superstructure, designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). Construction of all five structures will take place over the next five weeks.

The Serpentine Galleries has commissioned four architects for the Summer Houses: Kunlé Adeyemi, Barkow Leibinger, Yona Friedman and Asif Khan.

For the past three months, Aecom and Intelligent Engineering CEO David Glover have been working with each architect to develop their initial concept. They have developed each of the four architectural designs – whether submitted as sketches, simple physical models or 3D parametric computer models – into digital models to aid the design and production process.

“With five structures across multiple sites, the logistical challenge of constructing this year’s Serpentine Pavilion and Summer Houses within the tight programme constraints requires a highly collaborative approach,” said Aecom director and technical practice group leader Jon Leach.

“The engineers and technical team play an important role in the creative process, working closely with the architects to transform their designs into functional and buildable spaces without losing sight of their original vision.”

“We are used to complex and experimental designs and the innovative use of materials, like the award-winning UK Pavilion for the Expo 2010 with Thomas Heatherwick and the Coca-Cola Beatbox in 2012 with Asif Khan, but the Serpentine has been a particular challenge – a real notch up,” commented AKT II design director Ricardo Baptista.

“Our long-term working relationship with BIG plus use of bespoke software have been key to the ‘high-speed’ turnaround of a true experiment, with the architect, Fiberline and Stage One working together from the outset. It is a big story the industry could learn from and we look forward to sharing it.”

Each year, the Serpentine Galleries commissions an international architect to design a temporary pavilion for the gallery grounds. In line with the criteria for the selection of the pavilion architect, the architects for the four Summer Houses are yet to build a permanent building in England.

The 2016 event is scheduled to open to the public in June.

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