Smiljan Radic creates 2014 Serpentine Pavilion

White, translucent and made of fibreglass The 48-year-old Chilean's plans for the summer pavilion are unveiled
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Smiljan Radic's plans for the 2014 Serpentine Pavilion
Smiljan Radic's plans for the 2014 Serpentine Pavilion

In our book, Latin American Houses, we describe the Chilean architect Smiljan Radic’s Pite House “as a dramatic concrete bunker that cantilevers over a rough Pacific shoreline.” Some might not take such a description kindly, yet the 48-year-old, who has just unveiled his plans for this summer’s Serpentine Pavilion, appreciates unadorned, functional architecture.

"I like fragile constructions that have nothing to do with the history of architecture,” he said following this week’s announcement, “like road-side fruit stalls, travelling circus tents and the simple shelters people build for themselves with whatever materials are to hand."

 

Smiljan Radic's plans for the 2014 Serpentine Pavilion
Smiljan Radic's plans for the 2014 Serpentine Pavilion

While Radic’s creations are a bit more impressive than a roadside fruit stand, works, such as his Extension to Charcoal Burner's Hut (1998) look both radically primitive and distressingly alien.

Radic is one of the youngest and least well-known architects to design the Serpentine’s annual pavilion; in the past Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Oscar Niemeyer, Rem Koolhaas and Jean Nouvel have had the honour.

 

Extension to the charcoal-burner's hut, 1998, Santa Rosa, Chile, by Smiljan Radic
Extension to the charcoal-burner's hut, 1998, Santa Rosa, Chile, by Smiljan Radic

Nevertheless, his 2014 pavilion due to open beside the Serpentine Gallery in London this June, is suitably impressive. The structure has been likened to an alien pod resting in a Neolithic site. The upper shell, formed from fiberglass, is semi-transparent, and when lit from within will glow at night.

As the architect puts it, “Externally, the visitor will see a fragile shell suspended on large quarry stones. This shell, white, translucent and made of fibreglass, will house an interior organised around an empty patio, from where the natural setting will appear lower, giving the sensation that the entire volume is floating.”

 

Smiljan Radic's plans for the 2014 Serpentine Pavilion
Smiljan Radic's plans for the 2014 Serpentine Pavilion

“At night, thanks to the semi-transparency of the shell,” Radic goes on, “the amber tinted light will attract the attention of passers-by like lamps attracting moths.”

Lights aside, the pavilion will also have a café, and host arts events. Find out more about it here; learn more about Radic’s earlier work in our book, Latin American Houses, and for more on contemporary building, please take a look at The Phaidon Atlas of 21st Century Architecture, the Phaidon Architecture Travel Guide App, and our recently launched online Atlas. You can sign up for a free trial for that here.


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