A first look at the 2015 Serpentine Pavilion

A gallery of images detailing the construction of this year's pavilion by Madrid architects SelgasCano
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Serpentine Pavilion 2015 - SelgasCano photograph courtesy NAARO
Serpentine Pavilion 2015 - SelgasCano photograph courtesy NAARO

The annual Serpentine Pavilion commission occupies a special place in architecturally engaged Londoners’ hearts. There’s nothing quite like a bit of early evening sun, a glass of Chablis in the park and some slightly pretentious architalkture with good friends as to the merits of the new installation.

This year’s Pavilion, by the Madrid-based practice SelgasCano, is unveiled next week, so we just spoke to Marcela Spadaro who, along with partner Freya Najade of the architectural photographic company NAARO, has spent the last three weeks documenting its construction.  Marcela is a trained architect, having worked with Zaha Hadid for ten years before founding NAARO. She’s very kindly giving Phaidon.com readers a sneak preview of what will be unveiled at the official opening next week. We began our chat this afternoon by asking her how the commission came about.

 

 

Serpentine Pavilion 2015 - SelgasCano photograph courtesy NAARO
Serpentine Pavilion 2015 - SelgasCano photograph courtesy NAARO

"Generally we’re commissioned to do projects but when we saw the design at the start of this year we approached the Serpentine Gallery and said we were particularly interested in documenting its construction. They replied positively with a list of key moments which we should photograph."

  

Serpentine Pavilion 2015 - SelgasCano photograph courtesy NAARO
Serpentine Pavilion 2015 - SelgasCano photograph courtesy NAARO

Why the construction specifically? "I am excited about seeing how something unfolds into what we later understand as architecture. I’m an architect by education and also by practice and I find that it really fascinating how at first the concrete, then the steel assembly unfolds into the space and environment of the pavilion and all these new and beautifully colourful spaces that didn’t exist before are suddenly apparent. The documentation of all these stages becomes meaningful once you eventually see the final piece."

 

Serpentine Pavilion 2015 - SelgasCano photograph courtesy NAARO
Serpentine Pavilion 2015 - SelgasCano photograph courtesy NAARO

It’s a reportage photography style yet also interpretive of the emerging structure "Yes, it is a little bit of that. Freya’s background is in photojournalism and documentary photography. I am mostly interested in form, space and moods and we like work that is a result of that collaboration. We researched the architects a lot before asking to photograph. We watched lots of video clips on Jose Selgas and his ideas for the pavilion. He talked about simplicity and the idea of how in a sense it’s an architecture that’s accessible to everyone." 

 

Serpentine Pavilion 2015 - SelgasCano photograph courtesy NAARO
Serpentine Pavilion 2015 - SelgasCano photograph courtesy NAARO

"I was quite curious about how these initial concepts become true in his architecture. I also found it interesting because it is an interest of my own. The amorphous proposal that they bring with the pavilion makes it very …uncertain. When you’re in the middle of this pavilion you have different kinds of tunnels which you cannot connect or construct in your mind. I really enjoy the element of surprise that brings about. I also feel very close to it in my personal disciplinary interests."

 

Serpentine Pavilion 2015 - SelgasCano photograph courtesy NAARO
Serpentine Pavilion 2015 - SelgasCano photograph courtesy NAARO

Did the architects give you any kind of direction? "No, we haven’t even met them yet! Maybe we will this Sunday when we will document the complete pavilion."

 

Serpentine Pavilion 2015 - SelgasCano photograph courtesy NAARO
Serpentine Pavilion 2015 - SelgasCano photograph courtesy NAARO

Serpentine Pavilion 2015 - SelgasCano photograph courtesy NAARO
Serpentine Pavilion 2015 - SelgasCano photograph courtesy NAARO

Was there one particular element you were trying to bring to life through the photography "We really admire the different kinds of atmospheres they create through colour. What we like the most is the plastic fabric they use which is translucent and has these transitions between colour. On top of this plastic ETFE membrane there’s a sort of webbing made out of ribbons that adds another layer to this colourful atmosphere." 

 

Serpentine Pavilion 2015 - SelgasCano photograph courtesy NAARO
Serpentine Pavilion 2015 - SelgasCano photograph courtesy NAARO

Serpentine Pavilion 2015 - SelgasCano photograph courtesy NAARO
Serpentine Pavilion 2015 - SelgasCano photograph courtesy NAARO

You teach architecture what’s the one thing we should understand about what SalgasCano is doing here? "The beautiful thing about the work is its simplicity, its economy of means which, when you also look at their larger work, seems to be very important to them. I really like the fact that with an economy of means they create a beautiful environment. That’s something to consider – the fact that sometimes you don’t need to expend too much to create something meaningful and beautiful. It’s about economy of means, beautiful space and environment."

 

Serpentine Pavilion 2015 - SelgasCano photograph courtesy NAARO
Serpentine Pavilion 2015 - SelgasCano photograph courtesy NAARO

Serpentine Pavilion 2015 - SelgasCano photograph courtesy NAARO
Serpentine Pavilion 2015 - SelgasCano photograph courtesy NAARO

We hope you can make it to London to see SelgasCano's work in situ. If you can't however, you can see plenty more great architecture in the pages of our beautiful and colourful architecture books.


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