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Video | Aecom’s David Glover explains Serpentine Pavilion engineering

Aecom has given NCE an exclusive interview on the engineering behind this year’s Serpentine Pavilion.

“Anyone who has built their own canoe will recognise everything about it.”

That is how David Glover, Aecom’s global CEO of building engineering, describes his firm’s work on this year’s Serpentine Pavilion, which opened last week in Hyde Park, London (see video interview).

Aecom provided engineering and technical services on the structure, designed by Chilean architect Smiljan Radic, and influenced by his 2010 papier mâché sculpture, The Selfish Giant’s Castle.

The challenge for Aecom was to create a life-size representation of the papier mâché castle, which would be strong enough to withstand hundreds of thousands of visitors. Using glass reinforced plastic and a steel frame, the firm erected the structure on site in just six weeks

The Aecom team worked closely with Radic to construction the temporary, semi-translucent, cylindrical structure, which also features a multi-purpose social space and café.

The Pavilion will remain open until October.

Glover has worked on the Serpentine Pavilion for the last two years. Previously Arup had worked on the project since its inception in 2000.

Glover said: “The Serpentine Pavilion is internationally recognised as one of the most important and exciting projects in London’s cultural calendar. Aecom has worked to ensure Smiljan Radic’s vision for the pavilion is maintained, while delivering it within the project’s tight timeframe. This is always a big challenge, but it is what makes the Pavilion such a special and exciting project to work on.”

Radić said: “The Serpentine 2014 Pavilion is part of the history of small romantic constructions seen in parks or large gardens, the so-called follies, which were hugely popular from the end of the 16th Century to the start of the 19th. Externally, the visitor will see a fragile shell suspended on large quarry stones. This shell - white, translucent and made of fibreglass - will house an interior organised around an empty patio, from where the natural setting will appear lower, giving the sensation that the entire volume is floating. At night, thanks to the semi-transparency of the shell, the amber tinted light will attract the attention of passers-by, like lamps attracting moths.”


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