I recently visited the Serpentine Gallery in London by Peter Zumthor. This is his description of the project when it was announced he was the designer of this year’s pavilion:
‘The building acts as a stage, a backdrop for the interior garden of flowers and light. Through blackness and shadow one enters the building from the lawn and begins the transition into the central garden, a place abstracted from the world of noise and traffic and the smells of London – an interior space within which to sit, to walk, to observe the flowers. This experience will be intense and memorable, as will the materials themselves – full of memory and time.’
The building is made from a lightweight timber frame wrapped with scrim and coated with a black paste mixed with sand. It is an example of “alloverness” that is used throughout the building and is very rough. As it is black your focus is centred on the planting in the centre when you get in. It is very enjoyable to sit and look at the planting and people walking around, the approach is on concrete slabs which are as rough as the building.
When he says materials are full of memory and time I am not quite convinced, they felt a little thin to give this impression. I think that if the building was located in the centre of urban/built up London his description above would work but as it is set within the centre of Hyde Park the effect is diluted.
It was raining on the day of my visit and I think that this is the best weather to visit in as the rain falls inward into the garden and is really enjoyable to watch from the perimeter seats.
Rather than too many overall pictures of the building which you can see on most websites, I have shown the details and interfaces between the different materials.