Next year, London’s acclaimed Serpentine Gallery will welcome a brand new 900 square meter exhibition space designed by Zaha Hadid. Opening just in time for the 2012 Olympics, the new space will be located across the Serpentine lake, opposite the existing gallery in London’s Kensington Gardens. Today, the Westminster Council announced its approval of the plans for the new structure, which will be called the Serpentine Sackler Gallery and placed in the renovated Magazine building. Hadid’s design combines the strong, historic structure with a lightweight and transparent extension, to create a building that embodies the Serpentine’s character and cultural programming.
The Magazine building came under control of the Serpentine Gallery back in 2009. Constructed in 1805, the building was originally used as a gunpowder depot for the army, but it has not housed any weapons or ammunition for the last 50 years. Hadid, winner of the 2004 Pritzker Prize, will carefully restore the historic structure while adding an extension that exemplifies her innovative architectural philosophy.
Known for connecting her architecture with landscape, the new pavilion echoes the surrounding gardens with an undulating roof. The extension will be made of lightweight structural elements and a tensile membrane, and in terms of program will function year-round as a cafe and meeting space that “complements rather than competes with the existing building.”
The playful roof moves and curves, sometimes dipping down to the ground before swooping up again. The roof is punctuated at its peaks, letting natural light flood the space. The Serpentine Gallery says that “sustainability requirements will be met,” but particular green building details are sparse.
The Magazine building itself will be renovated to highlight its history, with the north wing’s refurbishment paying special attention to the building’s original use. The oldest part of the Magazine, which housed the actual gunpowder, will become the central citadel for the new gallery. The Sackler gallery’s exhibitions will focus on the best emerging artists in all art forms, ranging from art and architecture to fashion and technology, and will complement the current gallery’s collection of modern and contemporary art.