2015 Summer Pavilion Review, Serpentine Gallery – Selgascano’s Technicolour Tent

It’s like Joseph’s amazing technicolour dreamcoat threw up on a giant tent. I mean that in the nicest possible way.


What I’m trying to articulate is the 15th Summer Pavilion at Serpentine Gallery at Hyde Park is colourful. I’m not really describing architects José Selgas and Lucía Cano (aka selgascano) work with any real justice here. Third time lucky.

The pristine green garden and pure white Serpentine Gallery is disrupted (again, in a nice way) by a kaleidoscope of colours. This rainbow structure livens up the picturesque understated yet typical British surroundings with bold and vibrant pinks, yellows and greens. The Summer Pavilion seems to sprawl across the ground, an alien blob crawling and inching it’s way closer to Serpentine Gallery.

The creature even has a mouth like hole in which you can look straight into it’s belly to find… people having drinks from the cafe.

For this is a friendly monster. Step inside and the similarities to a kaleidoscope grow. Colours seem to merge and create an oil on water effect. The summer sunlight pierces through the transparent material and combines with the colours to project even more shades than a Dulux paint chart on the floor.

Ribbons add a playful childlike touch whilst giving you the sense of being trapped in a web. Trapped is the wrong word. The bright hues together with the heat (the pavilion does have the air of a sauna) and bubble like texture make it feel like a warm, welcoming hug.

How does it compare to previous years? Selgas and Cano have suggested this year’s Summer Pavilion has taken inspiration from past contructs. The striking colour can be seen in 2010’s red boxed pavilion by Jean Nouvel, the sprawling shape is reminiscent of 2009’s pavilion by Kazuyo Sejima & Ryue Nishizawa and the pavilion is aesthetically at it’s best at night up like Rem Koolhaas and Cecil Balmond’s in 2006.

The pavilion has also been influenced by the hustle and bustle of London, particularly the Underground. This can be seen in the rather manic fashion the ribbons criss cross and zig zag across the roof. It’s certainly to most removed from the more ‘serious’ architectural builds of previous commissions.

2015’s work is by far the most fun in the 15 years of commissioning Summer Pavilions and, in my opinion, the best. The funky colours and structure can be enjoyed by visitors of all ages. The director wanted a party pavilion to celebrate a landmark 15th year – no one can deny the Summer Pavilion delivers.

The Summer Pavilion is open until the 18th October where Fortnum and Mason are running a daily cafe.

How do you think the Summer Pavilion compares to previous years? Tell me in the comments section below!

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