Chilean architect Smiljan Radic to design new summer pavilion in London

© Smiljan Radic

London's Serpentine Gallery has been commissioning a summer pavilion every year for the past 14 years. Some have been by starchitects and some by young, upcoming architects. This year's is by a Chilean, 48 years old, Smiljan Radic.

Well-known in his native land, his commissions range from public buildings, museums, and restaurants to private residences. He has worked in Chile, Japan and Austria but never in England before.

And never has such a structure been seen before.

The building will be semi-translucent and cylindrical, designed to resemble a shell resting on large quarry stones. It will sit beside the permanent gallery, occupying 350 sq. metres and housing a cafe.

As the architect himself describes 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. At night, thanks to the semi-transparency of the shell, the amber tinted light will attract the attention of passers-by like lamps attracting moths.

Known for his use of vernacular materials, his buildings combine natural materials such as the boulders and rough hewn wood, along with the sophisticated use of modern technology.

He explains his philosophy:

I find contemporary architecture gives too much attention to the surface and the visual sense, I'm more interested in the ability of architecture to create an ambience, to give the air a certain quality, with noise, pasty light, suspended dust or an unusual temperature.

architect-ai-wei-weiBonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0
Ai Weiwei (2012)

serpentineBonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0
Sou Fujimoto (2013)

serpentine-gardenBonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0
Piet Oudolf, Peter Zumthor (2011)

He is in august company. Previous architects who have designed pavilions include Sou Fujimoto (2013), Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei (2012),Peter Zumthor (2011), Jean Nouvel, 2010, Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, SANAA, 2009; Frank Gehry, 2008; Olafur Eliasson and Kjetil Thorsen, 2007; Rem Koolhaas and Cecil Balmond, with Arup, 2006; Álvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura with Cecil Balmond, Arup, 2005; Oscar Niemeyer, 2003; Toyo Ito and Cecil Balmond - with Arup, 2002; Daniel Libeskind with Arup, 2001; and Zaha Hadid, who designed the inaugural Pavillion in 2000.

Chilean architect Smiljan Radic to design new summer pavilion in London
It's a tradition: every summer a different architect designs a pavilion at London's Serpentine Gallery.

Related Content on