This year—the Serpentine’s 40th Anniversary—the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion was designed by world-renowned French architect Jean Nouvel. This 2010 Pavilion was the 10th commission in the Gallery’s annual series, the world’s first and most ambitious architectural program of its kind. It was the architect’s first completed building in the UK. The Pavilion commission 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.
The design for the 2010 Pavilion was a contrast of lightweight materials and dramatic metal cantilevered structures. The entire design was rendered in a vivid red that, in a play of opposites, contrasts with the green of its park setting. In London, the colour reflects the iconic British images of traditional telephone boxes, post boxes and London buses. The building consists of bold geometric forms, large retractable awnings and a sloped freestanding wall that stands 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 Serpentine Gallery Park Nights and the changing summer weather.