Serpentine Pavilion

The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion commission, now entering its eighth year, is an ongoing programme of temporary structures by internationally acclaimed architects and individuals. It is unique worldwide and presents the work of an international architect or design team who, at the time of the Serpentine Gallery’s invitation, has not completed a building in the UK.

The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2007, designed by the internationally acclaimed artist Olafur Eliasson and the award-winning Norwegian architect Kjetil Thorsen, of the architectural practice Snøhetta, opened on 24 August and remained on site until 11 November 2007.

The Serpentine Pavilion 2007 is a spectacular and dynamic building. The timber-clad structure resembles a spinning top and brings a dramatic vertical dimension to the more usual single-level pavilion. A wide spiralling ramp makes two complete turns, ascending from the Gallery’s lawn to the seating area and continuing upwards, culminating at the highest point in a view across Kensington Gardens and down into the chamber below.

The Pavilion will act as a ‘laboratory’ every Friday night with artists, architects, academics and scientists leading a series of public experiments. Based on the principle of a winding ramp, the 2007 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion explores the idea of vertical circulation within a single space.

The aim is to reconsider the traditional, single-level pavilion structure by adding a third dimension: height. The vertical movement of visitors in the Pavilion will complement the horizontal circulation in the exhibition spaces at the adjacent Serpentine Gallery.

Visitors are invited to ascend from the lawn to the roof via the ramp, which functions as a mediator between the Pavilion interior and its surroundings. Whilst journeying upwards, they will first encounter the interior space, which is followed by an enclosed stretch of the ramp with the surroundings only glimpsed through the louvered facade.

As they proceed, visitors will complete the spiralling movement, the ramp becomes integrated into the roof of the Pavilion, and they experience a full, unhindered view of the park.

The interior will be lit by daylight, emitted through the oculus in the roof. The space itself is defined by a geometric pattern that is both articulated as the wall surface and as places in which one can sit. The movement and interaction of the visitors will thus be a defining component of the Pavilion.