Designed by Japanese architect Toyo Ito with Arup’s Cecil Balmond, the temporary pavilion has been built on the lawn of the Serpentine Gallery as part of an annual showcase of contemporary design. Last year’s pavilion was designed by Daniel Libeskind; the year before that, Zaha Hadid designed the inaugural structure.
Ito’s pavilion, finished last week, is the product of a breakneck procurement process that took just six months from commission to opening.
Stanhope’s Peter Rogers acted as the project’s “fixer”, persuading suppliers to work at cost. That meant the structure, which would have cost £600,050, was built for around a 10th of that.
In form, Ito’s design is a simple 300 m2 box, apparently constructed from a random pattern of straight lines intersecting to form triangles and trapezoids like shattered tiles. In fact, the pattern is derived from a complex mathematical model – an algorithm of a cube expanding as it rotates.
The 4.5 m high pavilion is constructed from white-painted 550 mm flat steel, welded off site into panels that were then bolted together on site, in a process akin to assembling a giant puzzle. Glass panels seal the openings in the roof, whereas the walls are left partially open to the elements. The remaining surfaces are clad in painted aluminium.
Over the next three months, the pavilion will be used for lectures and events in the evenings while doubling up as a café during the day. After that, the Serpentine is keen to sell the structure to help recoup building costs.
Architectural design Toyo Ito and Cecil Balmond Structural design Arup Project management Serpentine Gallery Construction management Sir Robert McAlpine Contractors Avondale Construction (joinery and labour), Laing O’Rourke (plant and materials) Planning supervisor Bovis Lend Lease Structure and frame William Hare; Corus Glass fabrication Saint-Gobain Glass Glass installation Seele Aluminium fabrication SAS International; Sheetfabs