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.
Photo by Danica Kus
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