Gallery: NEW PHOTOS: A Secret Garden Blooms in Peter Zumthor’s 2011 Ser...

Peter Zumthor surveys the completed Serpentine Pavilion.

Photo by Danica Kus

The pavilion is classic Zumthor in its minimalism and modernist restraint, but the twist is in how the building pushes the envelope through subtractive design — it reduces aesthetic fetters and even light itself. Visitors are confronted with a simple black box with several entrances. A dark hallway proceeds toward sunlight at the end, which opens to the inner courtyard.

At this point the true meaning of the space is revealed – a hortus conclusus fuses building and nature with a flourish of plants and insects. The garden, created by Dutch landscape designer Piet Oudolf, is the building’s contemplative centerpiece. Its 250 square meters are planted with a great variety of flowering plants chosen for their size, color, and fragrance.

The roof angles into the courtyard to provide views of the sky and reduce the building’s profile. Seating is set along the shaded perimeter to let visitors sit while absorbing the richness of the environs and the quality of senses set against the blank slate of the surrounding walls. The pavilion’s materials are as minimal as its design – a timber core wrapped in plywood. The plywood is covered is tar and burlap to absorb light and maintain a simple, organic texture.

+ Serpentine Gallery Pavilion

Photos by Danica Kus


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  1. hotwaterfactory July 8, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    This architecture is great! It is a bit familiar though. It has the reminiscence of a cloister with the world outside excluded from the “monastic” life. The plants in the middle, the rhythm of shadows and lights. Even the outside black walls keep the world away with its noise and distractions.
    A fantastic intimate space where to dream and rest and where time doesn’t exist. Thanks to Peter Zumthor, London is not just a place where architecture needs to show off and scream aloud;
    “Little is Big”.

  2. ram June 30, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    My hat off! Zumthor’s pavilion is a brilliant execution of a concept. I hope there were more architects thinking alike.
    see my pavilion pictures here;

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