They informed me at the Press Office that I might be able to have a few words with Bjarke Ingels, architect of this year’s Serpentine Pavilion. I’d read about the unzipped wall and wondered how it would compare to past years’ structures.
I was also super keen to ask him about the unzipping part: In conceiving of these staggered cubes undulating from narrow to wide creating a different view from every angle, had he thought it male or female? Had he thought of no gender whatsoever? Are structures/buildings usually referred to as ‘she’ or is that just for sea vessels? I felt it could be an interesting conversation.
Walking through Hyde Park to get there, raindrops fell from tree branches, soft landings on my top, rippling outwards to create the occasional water mark.
Wandering in past the gallery, I moved slowly through the crush of people by the 2016 Pavilion. Wine gasses in hands, bottles of beer, interesting spectacle frames – coloured and otherwise surrounded me. ‘Isn’t it great to be out’ I overheard someone remark. Indeed it was, after a day of downpours the sun had finally granted us an audience, enabling outdoor pursuits once more and now setting on a city yearning for summer.
Through the structure I walked. ‘It is so much about social media hysteria; people taking selfies; looking at what other people are doing. At night it becomes a cinema, and then we do rentals – like for weddings – it helps pay for it all’ said one man to a group of nodding heads. He was definitely an architect and possibly from BIG – but he wasn’t Bjarke and I didn’t think it appropriate to interrupt his flow with a question about the unzipping element.
I chatted to a few fellow guests. As we spoke drops of rain splashed down on us from open cubes. “It’s always the same in these pavilions” I observed. “You come in from a walk in the park to seek shelter and nourishment, then it rains and you have to find somewhere else to go.”
“Yes, I don’t think rainproof is ever part of the brief” one of the group concurred. “But I walked here this evening through dripping trees, and now it’s the same – it is kind of natural I suppose.”
From inside I glanced through cubes at people standing outside looking in. Some cubes had perspex or was it glass, most of them were without. What was the reason for that? ‘It could be structural’ said an architect friend I’d run into.
‘Otherwise, like a house of cards it would collapse?’
Half an hour later I squeezed though the throng out into the open green space of Hyde Park and took a deep breath. My questions were unanswered, but I was tired and hungry: In short sustenance was required no matter which way you looked at it.