Designs Revealed for 2023 Serpentine Pavilion


In a recent press release, London-based Serpentine Galleries has revealed plans for its 2023 Pavilion, designed by Lebanese-born, Paris-based architect Lina Ghotmeh.

Serpentine’s 22nd Pavilion will be unveiled by Ghotmeh in June 2023 alongside Goldman Sachs, which has been supporting the annual project for nine consecutive years.

The Serpentine Pavilion project was first launched in 2000 with Dame Zaha Hadid and has since featured an array of big names and emerging talents in international architecture. The participatory public and artistic platform serves to support Serpentine’s innovative, experimental, interdisciplinary, community and family programs.

Ghotmeh’s Pavilion

Owner of Lina Ghotmeh — Architecture in Paris, Ghotmeh develops projects described as being at the crossroads of architecture, art and design. Having worked on projects around the globe, Serpentine shares that Ghotmeh’s practice takes an in-depth 360 approach involving research on location history, typology of the place, materials, resources, users’ habits and more.

In speaking about her design for the 22nd Serpentine Pavilion, Ghotmeh told The Guardian that it has a “Mary Poppins” flare.

“I wanted to create an open, inviting shelter, a place to sit and eat and talk together in nature, and rethink our relationship to each other and the living world,” she said.

Her description is fitting, as her design—titled “À Table”—is an ode to what the French say when calling to sit down together and eat. Made up of a modular timber system that can be disassembled and reassembled easily with bolted connections, at first glance, the pavilion resembles a parasol-like structure.

“I’m trying to make the carbon footprint as low as can be,” said Ghotmeh, explaining how she intends to use low-carbon recycled glass, developed by Saint-Gobain, and bolted connections for easy disassembly. The timber will be laminated veneer lumber (LVL), which uses less material than cross-laminated timber, and will help to create skinny columns and beams.

The colonnade of LVL columns will support a wooden umbrella made up of nine pleated “petals,” which will provide a sheltered walkway around the pavilion’s edges. The roof itself is further described as being “wafer-thin” and is braced with rows of V-shaped ridges.

Translucent glass screens will protect the interior space, which will house a ring of tables and benches arranged around the center of the structure. Inside, visitors can look up to see radical wooden ribs extending across the ceiling from a central oculus.

Each side of the structure can also be observed as curving slightly inwards, an intentional nod to the location of the surrounding trees’ roots. The decision also gives the pavilion a subtle, shape-shifting geometry that is almost fabric-like.

“In today's changing times, this pavilion offers a celebratory space,” Ghotmeh said. “It is endowed with a table, around which we will sit together in a modest, low structure and in an atmosphere reminiscent of toguna huts of the Dogon people in Mali, West Africa, designed to bring all members of a community together in discussion.

“Here we can eat, work, play, meet, talk, rethink and decide.”

À Table pavilion will be installed in London's Kensington Gardens in June 2023.

Serpentine 2022

Last year, the Serpentine Galleries selected American artist Theaster Gates to design the 2022 Serpentine Pavilion, making him the first non-architect to receive the annual commission.

The selection was made by Serpentine Artistic Director Hans Ulrich Obrist, CEO Bettina Korek, Director of Construction and Special Projects Julie Burnell, Director of Curatorial Affairs and Public Practice Yesomi Umolu, and Project Curator Natalia Grabowska together with advisors Sir David Adjaye OBE and David Glover.

Gates’ wooden pavilion, titled “Black Chapel,” was reported to reference the significance of the Stoke-on-Trent bottle kilns, which were used for firing pottery. The design, created by Gates, is supported by Adjaye Associates and aims to minimize its carbon footprint and environmental impact.

“The name Black Chapel is important because it reflects the invisible parts of my artistic practice,” Gates said in a press release. “It acknowledges the role that sacred music and the sacred arts have had on my practice, and the collective quality of these emotional and communal initiatives.

“Black Chapel also suggests that in these times there could be a space where one could rest from the pressures of the day and spend time in quietude. I have always wanted to build spaces that consider the power of sound and music as a healing mechanism and emotive force that allows people to enter a space of deep reflection and/or deep participation.”

Black Chapel was constructed using predominately timber and sustainably sourced materials. The structure featured an operating bell in its entrance, originating from the demolished St. Laurence Church. The bell was also used for announcing performances and activations, in addition to serving as a call and signal for other forms of visitation and participation with the pavilion.

An oculus, placed in the center of the pavilion’s roof, served as the structure’s single source of light and aimed to create a sanctuary-like environment for reflection and communion.

The release went on to note that the pavilion shares a name with a 2019 exhibition Gates curated for the Haus der Kunst in Munich, a museum originally built for the Nazi regime. The project was an attempt to bring Black spiritual life to the museum through photographs, sculptures and documents.

Since its months-long feature at the Kensington Gardens, the pavilion was resited to a permanent location.


Tagged categories: Architects; Architecture; Artists; Asia Pacific; Color + Design; Color + Design; Commercial / Architectural; Design - Commercial; Designers; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Latin America; North America; Project Management; Wood; Z-Continents

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