The Summer House takes a circular form whose circumference has been unpeeled to connect us and Queen Caroline’s Temple to a picturesque moment left hidden by William Kent almost 300 years ago.
Through sun path analysis I realised that Kent aligned the temple toward the direction of the rising sun on 1 March 1683, Queen Caroline’s birthday. This effect would have been amplified by the reflection off the newly created Serpentine Lake. We can imagine that the Serpentine Lake itself may have been designed to amplify this annual moment, a landscape-sized mirror to reflect the sun, a possibility which John Rennie’s 1826 bridge obscures.
In our Summer House design, a polished metal platform and roof provide an intimate experience of this lost moment for the visitor.
Three ‘rooms’ of differing spatial quality gently enfilade together like those in the Temple. These are articulated by an undulating line of timber staves which create enclosure and direct views. The ground is a continuous gravel landscape punctuated by stepping stones, subtly elevating and measuring the visitor’s approach when entering the interior.
As the structure meets the gravel it gently blends the horizontal and vertical, to appear as if the summer house might have grown out of the ground.
Conceived as a Tea House, the project is designed to offer new experiences of the Park through dialogue with Queen Caroline’s temple and the surrounding scenery.
Asif Khan, February 2016