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2004 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion


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dmadsenweaetxdyvaydzcwq, hanley wood, llc

Project Name

2004 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion

Project Status

Concept Proposal

Year Completed



Serpentine Gallery


  • Structural Engineer: Arup

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Project Description


In designing the summer pavilion for the Serpentine Gallery, MVRDV posed the question of what could be added to the series of beautiful objects created by other architects in the Serpentine's grounds, which have concentrated on independence rather than on connection. The aim was to devise a pavilion that would serve not only the Gallery but also the park by
extending them both. All of the previous Serpentine pavilions were located on the lawn in front of the Gallery's building, but what would happen if we absorbed the Gallery into the pavilion. Would it be possible to create a marriage between the two, challenging the art inside the Gallery and forcing new interpretations? The concept intends to forge a stronger relationship between the pavilion and the Gallery, so that it becomes, not a separate structure but, an extension of the Gallery. By subsuming the current building inside the pavilion, it is transformed into a mysterious hidden space.
The Serpentine Gallery is located in a fenced-off area that constitutes an island in a wider public domain. By literally extending the existing lawns over the Gallery, it is linked it to its surroundings. The proposal adds a recreational hill to the park, which becomes a public highpoint, visible from afar and enabling far-reaching views. Where the park's paths meet the hill, new routes and stairways are created along the flanks of the mount, over alpine meadows to the top and down to the other side. They also provide access through slits into the interior, which includes a café that has an opening enabling users to sit outside on the front lawn.
The interior can be seen as a giant three-dimensional 'lobby' in which visitors can also sit. Illumination is provided by an opening in the mountain's surface above the Gallery's existing cupola, which also serves to ventilate the space. The public will be able to experience both the pavilion and the Serpentine's exhibition and education programmes, which will continue to take place. Depending on the requirements of these programmes, the lighting can be altered: by use of additional artificial beams of light, which can be directed up at the reflective, galvanised-steel structure creating an artificial sky; or can be turned downwards, presenting the Gallery beneath like hidden treasure. At night, this illumination pierces through the slits in the exterior, creating a surprising and intriguing image.

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