Our student panel give their opinions on the Swiss architect’s temporary structure in Kensington Gardens, London’s Hyde Park

Peter Zumthor's Serpentine Pavilion

Peter Zumthor's Serpentine Pavilion

This year’s Serpentine pavilion has been designed by Pritzker prize-winning Swiss architect Peter Zumthor. It is with an enclosed garden set within London’s Hyde Park that Zumthor hopes to inspire visitors to become observers of nature.

Craig Allen’s verdict

Upon the threshold between park and courtyard is where Swiss architect Peter Zumthor’s trademark of simple yet careful control of light and juxtaposing materials resides.

Once inside, it is the most comfortable of spaces. On a warm day, the heat absorbing black walls provide shade and a cool place to easily spend hours. There is something rustic in the way the square exterior form is cut into a pitched roof on the interior.

Zumthor’s design for this year’s Serpentine Gallery pavilion in Hyde Park is incredibly simple, functional and effective, allowing light to hit the abundant wildflower garden in the centre and providing a sleek structure to shade coffee drinkers below. The abundance of bees gorging on the plantations nectar is a particularly welcome sight.

It gives an immense sense of harmony between people and nature, Craig Allen

Aptly, considering that this is the cherry bursting of the architect’s design virginity on British soil, the pavilion is akin to a holiday resort. Visitors reside as though they are enjoying a week away on Rhodes or Sardinia. The pavilion quintessentially reflects English sentimentality, yet with a sophistication that elevates it to the function of a retreat from its surroundings.

It gives an immense sense of harmony between people and nature. The architect’s intention to ‘help its audience take the time to relax’ is seemingly fulfilled by the majority sharing the space.

Of the exterior aesthetics, perhaps transporting the entire pavilion to an industrial estate where it can sit alongside similar rectangular cubes would offer an interesting test and evolution of its properties!

The pavilion is amazing, and clearly a very logical, successful and sensible answer to a well thought out brief. With the interior guarded from the roadside and park, it transforms the occupants from intrigued tourists and curious city inhabitants into care free relaxed dwellers and faux sophisticated island excursionists.

Jessica Taylor-Tibbott’s verdict

The Serpentine pavilion designed by Peter Zumthor reminds me of a modern adaptation of a secret walled garden. The intriguing tall dark walls make the pavilion somewhat cell like, very perpendicular and angular.

The vast contrast between the manmade exterior of the building and the courtyard, together with mother nature’s plants and flowers alters the visitor’s atmosphere with the juxtaposition of shadows and highlighted areas, such as the central strip.

The natural sunlight floods the central courtyard which increases the focus on the extraordinary rare plants and flowers. Furthermore, the plain black backdrop creates a clean, simple surrounding which the silhouette of the plants fall upon.

Craig Allen is an architecture graduate from the Royal College of Art and Jessica Taylor-Tibbott is studying architecture at Nottingham Trent University.