Only Bjarke Ingels Could Make a Brick Building Look Ethereal
Every year, the Serpentine Gallery taps an architect to design a pavilion that will grace the gallery’s front lawn in London’s Hyde Park—and every year, architect’s prove they’re not afraid to get a little weird.
Last year, Spanish architecture studio Selgascano designed a crooked structure of bright, iridescent materials that brought to mind a futuristic fun house. The year before that, Chilean architect Smiljan Radić designed an undeniably odd fiberglass number that toed the line between misshapen egg and rock. My favorite is the brilliant jungle gym of a pavilion Sou Fujimoto created in 2013.
Now BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group), the firm responsible for designing the last of the World Trade Center towers, gets its turn. The studio recently revealed its vision: a futuristic take on the “brick wall,” perhaps nodding toward London’s iconic building material. More than 1,800 hollow rectangular fiberglass frames are stacked like space-age Lego blocks and appear to “unzip,” curving outward from a straight line in the center to create an interior cavity that visitors can walk through or sit on, as the images suggest.
In the grand scheme of pavilions, BIG errs on the side of understated. It’s not made with a robot, nor is it a swimming pool filled with a million plastic balls. In architect-speak, Ingels explains that he tried to design a structure that “embodies multiple aspects that are often perceived as opposites: a structure that is free-form yet rigorous, modular yet sculptural, both transparent and opaque, both box and blob.” Translated to English, each visitor’s experience varies according to his or her vantage point.
It’s BIG in the truest sense—an angular, almost pixelated structure that balances stark, Danish chilliness with just the right amount of playfulness. At the very least, if the renderings prove true to life, BIG’s pavilion should be a lovely experience that plays fantastically with light. The pavilion will be up from June 10 through October 9th.