For the Serpentine’s 40th anniversary, the 10th Serpentine Gallery Pavilion was designed by world-renowned French architect Jean Nouvel.
Nouvel’s design for the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2010 contrasted lightweight materials with dramatic metal cantilevered structures, rendered in a vivid red that, in a play of opposites, contrasted with the green of its park setting. In London, the colour reflects the iconic British images of traditional telephone boxes, postboxes and London buses. The building consisted of bold geometric forms, large retractable awnings and a sloped freestanding wall that stood 12m above the lawn.
Striking glass, polycarbonate and fabric structures created a versatile system of interior and exterior spaces, while the flexible auditorium accommodated the changing summer weather and Park Nights, the Serpentine’s acclaimed programme of public talks and events, which attracts up to 250,000 visitors each summer.
Nouvel’s Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, the architect’s first completed building in the UK, operated as a publicly accessible structure within Kensington Gardens and as a café. The pavilion design highlighted the idea of play with its incorporation of traditional French outdoor table-tennis tables.
This 2010 Pavilion was the 10th commission in the gallery’s annual series, the world’s first and most ambitious architectural programme of its kind, which has become an international site for architectural experimentation and follows a long tradition of pavilions by some of the world’s greatest architects. The immediacy of the commission – a maximum of six months from invitation to completion – provides a unique model worldwide.