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New Serpentine 'cloud' pavilion unveiled

The Serpentine Gallery’s latest summer Pavilion was unveiled yesterday in London’s Hyde Park, designed by Arup and Japanese architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of the Sanna practice.

Resembling a floating cloud or pool of water, the Pavilion is the latest in the Serpentine’s annual series of summer structures, where acclaimed architects from abroad realise their first built structures in the UK.

Arup project director and lead engineer Ed Clark said: “We evaluate how the building should perform technically. It must be safe and robust enough not only to survive for three months in Hyde Park. Along with this, it needs to be able to be re-built elsewhere – which means being simple to construct and remove.

“Of course it must do all of these things whilst enabling rather than stifling the architectural intent. The primary purpose of the Pavilion, after all, is to be a public celebration of architecture. In particular this year the biggest challenge was to achieve as much as we could with as little material as possible”

Describing their structure the architects said in a joint statement: “The Pavilion is floating aluminium, drifting freely between the trees like smoke. The reflective canopy undulates across the site, expanding the park and sky. Its appearance changes according to the weather, allowing it to melt into the surroundings.

“It works as a field of activity with no walls, allowing uninterrupted view across the park and encouraging access from all sides. It is a sheltered extension of the park where people can read, relax and enjoy lovely summer days,”

The resulting floating cloud-like structure has a seamless finish and was constructed by Stage One, using a sandwich panel technique, comprising of a composite of mirror polished aluminium skins bonded to a structural plywood core.

Structural continuity was achieved by interlocking the panels together, and the curvature of the Pavilion accomplished using either curved panels that were generated by moulds in the Stage One workshop, or by simply bending the panels on site and connecting them to the contoured structural columns via specially designed column head fixings.

Serpentine Gallery director Julia Peyton-Jones and Hans co-director Ulrich Obrist said: “Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa’s design embraces the parkland around the Serpentine Gallery as never before with an extraordinarily innovative design, which reveals the subtle play on light and perception so characteristic of their work. This Pavilion will be a wonderful addition to London’s landscape this summer. It is our dream come true.”

Clark continued : “Arup’s eighth year of commitment to the Serpentine Pavilion reflects our belief in the project and the positive experience our teams get from collaborating with some of the most exiting architects of our time. At Arup we have had the privilege of engineering the Pavilion each year and this role provides significant challenges to overcome”

The Summer Pavilion opens at the Serpentine Gallery from 12 July where it will remain until 18 October.

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