Oh boy, this was a huge weak for pavilions. On Tuesday Serpentine gallery opened its gates for an early preview. Same day Malcolm Reading Consultants revealed 7 concepts of The Ross Pavilion in Edinburgh’s most exclusive place – Princes Street Gardens in front of the Edinburgh Castle. Just a day before all this pavilion explosion, OMA presented their MPavilion in Australia. So, in total – one built and eight concepts, mostly from fancy names.
You know it’s summer if everybody starts building pavilions.
Undoubtedly, the star of all this pavilion-craze, is prestigious Serpentine pavilion. Located in super exclusive Hyde Park location, next to Serpentine Gallery, this pavilion was traditionally designed by the most famous and fashionable architects of the time, however there were some exceptions. In 2015 pavilion was designed by less known selgascano architects from Spain. This year curators chose Francis Kere – an architect from Gando, Burkina Faso. Structure, colours, patterns – all these elements clearly indicate origin of the architect. It is probably the most pavilion-like pavilion in recent years built in Hyde Park. Most pavilions before were experiments in materials and space, they played with emotions and experiences. Architects tried really hard to surprise you, but not this time which is a real surprise. Kere’s pavilion has walls, has roof, has clear inside and outside spaces – all what previous architects wanted to erase and blur. But most importantly, instead of thinking how to show-off his design genius, he thought about the environment – mainly climate. During the rain, roof will direct water towards the void in the middle which will (or should) become a waterfall. This is probably the first pavilion in Hyde Park which you will want to see during bad weather.
This competition in the heart of Scotland showed how obsessed architects are with pavilions. Total 125 first stage entries were received. From them, a shortlist of seven was chosen. Among them are BIG, Sou Fujimoto, Adjaye, West8 and others. Pavilion concepts, these seven teams presented, are not surprising, designs are more conservative than Serpentine – they will be on site permanently, so experimentation is limited. For instance, BIG’s and Sou Fujimoto’s proposals look like they were taken from a modern Japanese pavilion design catalogue, Flanagan Lawrence and wHY Architecture did what any architecture student would try at first – hide all structure underground merging it in the landscape. Rest of participants, Adjaye Associates, Page \ Park Architects and Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter, tried creating something what reminds more of a building or a more traditional pavilion. Who will get built, we will find out later this year. If you are in Edinburgh, free exhibition will be on display until July 30 at Edinburgh’s City Art Centre.
You can try denying, but the truth is, everybody analyses every new project OMA does. Recent pavilion in Australia is no exception. However, nobody shat their pants seeing it, unlike when OMA released Prada Transformer couple of years ago. Looking at this new MPavilion, you can’t stop thinking that you have seen it before. 8×8 square grid roof placed on top of a free-form landscape hill and an amphitheatre with one rotating piece. This composition and arrangement of elements has been used hundreds of times. Presentation by Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten looked boring even to the presenters themselves. Just look in the video at the face of Gianotten when Koolhaas talks and vice versa. OMA somewhat became an Apple of architecture – years ago it was extremely exciting, with mind bending projects, but now it seems to be struggling with making anything fresh. Anyhow, pavilion will be open to the public from 3 October 2017 to 4 February 2018 in Melbourne.