Serpentine Gallery by Peter Zumthor

The Serpentine Pavilion by the masterful Peter Zumthor embodies a silent meditation of nature packed into a black box. The structure plays with the senses of visitors by initially absorbing all the light and subsequently opening up a lush floral courtyard offering a calm sun-filled relaxation spot. The Pavilion is classic Zumthor with his minimalism and modest modernism, pushing the envelope of restrained design by reducing aesthetic elements and even light itself. As the black box engulfs the visitors, they are led by a distant sunlight through a dark corridor into the inner courtyard.

Only at this point, the true meaning of this space is understood – a closed garden (lat. hortus conclusus) connects the jet black building with vivid nature. The garden is designed by Piet Oudolf (Netherlands) and its size of 250 m2 creates an abundance of space for contemplation in harmony with flora of various colours, shapes, sizes and aromas. Angling into the courtyard, the roof enables unobstructed view of the sky. Sheltered seating area is placed around the garden.


4 thoughts on “Serpentine Gallery by Peter Zumthor”

  1. Was not a “silent mediation” experience on my visit. And I can confirm that the “structure” definitely “plays with the senses of the visitors” with gangs of toddlers running amok up and down the bouncy creaking floor to the corridors made it a testing experience for my senses. Definitely not a place for adults to relax. Why do parents bring their children? Surely they could have been told to play outside in the endlessness of Hyde Park? Was a nice little building.

  2. I love serpentine’s pavilions – I had the oportunity to see a few of them. It is really nice to see how different architects materialize the same ideia. I admire a lot Zumthor’s work and texts and I was a little curious to see how Zumthor would make it, and that’s it: it is definitely him… I don’t know, but at London in Summer and at the parks we live in a kind of party atmosphere. Maybe other architects with more oppenned structures had made a better work with park noise? “Why do parents bring their children?”… Well… Life is short, and rest is forever…

  3. @ Brian,
    Zumthor’s was a very clever take on a Bengali village. It was weird that it felt familiar to me before I knew about his concept.
    It’s unfortunate that you couldn’t enjoy it because of the noise and crowd. I had been there quite late in the evening, no one around.

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