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    Title : 3723463556 eabf43107d b
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    Title : Joe Vare
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    Title : SANAA Serpentine 4485
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    Title : SANAA Serpentine 4607
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    Title : SANAA Serpentine 4771
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    Title : SANAA Serpentine 4786
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    Title : SANAA Serpentine 4904
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    Title : Serp 10
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    Title : Serp 12
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    Title : serpentine pavillion 1
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    Title : serpentine pavillion 2
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    Title : serpentine pavillion 3
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    Title : serpentine pavillion 4
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    Title : serpentine pavillion 5

Review by Josephine Breese

The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2009 designed by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nichizawa of SANAA

The ninth in the series of architectural commissions for the Serpentine Pavilion is eccentric and distinctive in its design, owning the space through an unique approach. Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nichizawa of SANAA, Tokyo, are the architects behind the project. The fluidity of this year’s pavilion seems directly in line with the duo’s ethos of disposing with hierarchies of space.

The best analogy for the pavilion is that of a drop of water or mercury, suspended like a giant metal cut-out by slender supporting poles. Its slippery curves splash outwards in bulbous swathes, leaving a bird’s eye silhouette of a bizarre reptilian protrusion. The hovering canopy is a flimsy shelter, intended to enhance its surroundings and encourage us to look at this familiar patch of lawn with fresh eyes. It certainly has this effect. The silvery surface is awash with dappled light from nearby trees, endless tree trunks in topsy-turvy presentation and swirling grass are countered by upside down figures dangling in their reflections. This is a space for contemplation, to enjoy the outside from the not-quite inside. Although the pavilion cannot be described as discreet in its shiny glory, it is not an obtrusive presence as it forges an unexpected continuity with its environment.

Completely permeable, it is an inherently public arena, albeit one whose spaces can be manipulated into private corners. Huddles of chairs and tables are cocooned beneath swooping slides. This can invoke claustrophobia accompanied by the sensation of brushing too close to a glass ceiling. Although the effect is dramatic, its airy proportions are momentarily lost. The subtle angles of the roof can be deceptive, but there is plenty of space for standing tall and roaming around with a generous few metres above. This lends the pavilion a subjectivity whereby we are left to choose how to experience it. The amorphous structure changes as you walk around, through it, peer into and out of it.

The ‘Park Nights’ events which accompany the Serpentine pavilion commission are a wonderful initiative for constantly introducing new audiences to the work. The programme hosts an eclectic variety of projects from film screenings to lectures, performances, experimental music and the Serpentine Gallery Poetry Marathon. SANAA’s objective of providing an open stage through their designs is fulfilled by this rolling use of the space, demonstrating its utility as well as aesthetic qualities.

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