Jul 19, 2009

Serpentine Pavilion '09 - Why Cement Flooring?!

The much anticipated Serpentine Pavilion of 2009, by Kazuyo Sejima+Ryue Nishizawa/SANAA, has recently been completed and opened to the public in Kensington Gardens, London.

As promised in the descriptions spread throughout earlier, it has brought a refreshing impression for the pavilion series (this is the ninth) by being the antithesis of its Iconic predecessors designed by Ghery, Niemeyer, Koolhaas and others.
Indeed, the 'floating' structure appears formless and ephemeral, drifts around the trees and camouflages into the surrounding by its extreme reflectiveness. It shouts with a sense of oriental subtlety that seems more noble in a way.

Everything seems pretty brilliant by now, the 'floating smog' is brilliant; the occasional Perspex/acrylic walls are fine, too; but why the cement-rendered flooring which, worse, covers the entire floor area within the 'roof' profile?

For the 'roof', I meant the floating structure which initially, suggested to us as an immaterial, freely drifting matter that somehow, could've been seen as an original archetype, rather than a typical roof element. But unfortunately, the immediate result of laying down that gigantic piece of cement molded with the same outline as the 'roof', is it perceptually affixing the form of the floating structure, restricting its sense of free-flow and ephemerality, making it appear closer to a solid roof than it ought to be.

Furthermore, the unexpected cement flooring almost totally ruined the idea of 'casually passing through the pavilion from any directions, sitting on the shaded lawn doing leisure activities like picnic, reading, napping, walking the dog in an ordinary evening and etc...' which were so strongly expressed in the architect's initial renderings and models, where there were only the floating structure and no cement floor.
Who would want to do the activities mentioned above on a cold, hard slab, honestly? A green lawn or at least the dirt surface after construction, could have been more casual and natural than formal.
Rather than being an inviting space, it could've already rejected some people.

To conclude in comparing with the initial rendering, the actual built work appears less pleasant, energetic and transparent than it could be. It's got a bit too formal than the initial impression given!
I totally love the weightlessly undulating structure but, I personally think this pavilion, 'though not too much, is a disappointment I've received from SANAA.
*nevertheless, my opinion could change, if I were able to visit the pavilion personally.*


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