History of the Pavilion

Serpentine’s annual architectural commission showcases new temporary buildings by international architects.

Each summer, Serpentine invites an internationally renowned architect to create their first built structure in England. The Pavilion commission has become an international site for architectural experimentation and has presented projects by some of the world’s greatest architects.

Discover the Serpentine Pavilion 2024 by Mass Studies

"There is no end to experimentation." - Zaha Hadid

For every Pavilion commission, the selection of the architect is led by Serpentine’s core curatorial thinking: to choose architects who consistently extend the boundaries of contemporary architectural practice and to introduce these practitioners to wider audiences.

The architectural brief is to design a 300-square-metre Pavilion that is used as a café and meeting space by day and a forum for learning, debate and entertainment at night. Since its inception, the Pavilion has become an established home for Serpentine’s experimental Live Programmes. There is no budget for the project: it is raised through sponsorship, in-kind support and the sale of the Pavilion. The commission was first conceived by former Serpentine director, Julia Peyton-Jones, in 2000, with Zaha Hadid, who designed the inaugural Pavilion.

Park Nights, a series of performance commissions, takes place in the Pavilion every summer. From art to music, dance to literature, Park Nights supports emerging artists.

Serpentine Pavilion 2023 designed by Lina Ghotmeh. © Lina Ghotmeh — Architecture. Photo: Iwan Baan, Courtesy: Serpentine.