Mexican architect Frida Escobedo will be the youngest ever designer to create a Serpentine Pavilion in London – at 38 years old – and the first solo women to do so since the inaugural design by Zaha Hadid in 2000.
Escobedo’s temporary structure for London’s Kensington Gardens will be an enclosed courtyard, with two rectangular volumes positioned at an angle. Its diaphanous lattice walls are inspired by a celosia: a traditional Mexican way of filtering light and air into a house.
‘My design for the Serpentine Pavilion 2018 is a meeting of material and historical inspirations inseparable from the city of London itself and an idea which has been central to our practice from the beginning: the expression of time in architecture through inventive use of everyday materials and simple forms,’ explains Escobedo. ‘For the Serpentine Pavilion, we have added the materials of light and shadow, reflection and refraction, turning the building into a timepiece that charts the passage of the day.’
Mirrored panels on the underside of the curving canopy will reflect the building and a pool of water at the courtyard’s heart. Open from 15 June to 7 October 2018, the pavilion will have a pivoted axis – a nod to the Prime Meridian, established in 1851 at Greenwich.
Courtyards are typical trait of Mexican domestic architecture, given a British spin in Kensington Gardens with UK-made building materials, including black steel and cement.
Frida Escobedo is the 18th architect to design a temporary summer pavilion for the Serpentine Galleries’ annual programme, following in the footsteps of Francis Kéré, BIG, Sou Fujimoto and Herzog & de Meuron. The Mexican – who set up her practice in 2006 – is a pavilion veteran, who has built ephemeral structures in Lisbon, Chicago and Stanford. In London she created an Aztec-inspired, mirrored structure in the V&A’s John Madejski Garden in 2015.
Beyond pavilions, Escobedo’s varied body of work includes Mexico City’s Librería del Fondo Octavio Paz and La Tallera, for which she turned the home and studio Mexican painter David Alfaro Siqueiros into a public gallery.
Many of the Serpentine Galleries’ pavilions find new homes once their time in Kensington Gardens is up, with Francis Keré’s 2017 design now bound for Malaysia and BIG’s 2016 ‘unzipped’ structure shipped to Canada.
Adding to this international theme, Serpentine Galleries announced they will launch a pavilion in Beijing, designed by Sichuan-based practice Jiakun Architects.
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