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July 13, 2005

Serpentine Gallery Pavillion in London

Every year, for the past six years, 10design583
a unique and thought provoking new piece of architecture has been commissioned to stand alongside the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens in London. This year the pavillion was done by Portuguese architects Alvaro Sizra, winner of the 1992 Pritzker Prize, and Eduardo Souto de Moura, creator of Braga, Portugual's stadium carved out of a granite hillside.

From Pilar Viladas's July 10th New York Times Article, Park Place:

The Serpentine Gallery, according to its director, Julia Peyton-Jones, has only one requirement of its pavilion designers: ''Please be ambitious.'' As in past years, the pavilion is being used as a cafe and as a place for lectures and events before being sold and dismantled.

Unlike its predecessors (overtly Modernist designs by Zaha Hadid, Daniel Libeskind, Toyo Ito and Oscar Niemeyer), this year's pavilion looks both familiar and strange, a traditional garden pergola transformed by computer technology. Its curving, irregular wooden grid encloses a vaulted interior that measures about 4,000 square feet and is 18 feet tall at its highest point. Translucent polycarbonate panels protect the interior from sun and rain.

Siza compared the pavilion to an animal stalking the gallery: ''Tense with the desire to approach, but nevertheless restrained. . . . But will it eat the building one day?'' Plans to do pretty much that were the basis of last year's yet-to-be-realized pavilion, by the Dutch firm MVRDV, which would have enveloped the gallery in a small green mountain. So far, cost and technological issues have kept that scheme on the drawing board. But there's always next year.

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