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Jean Nouvel Commissioned to Design 10th Serpentine Gallery Pavilion
Jean Nouvel is responsible for the design of over 200 buildings the world over. EPA/HERBERT P. OCZERET.
LONDON.- In its 40th anniversary year, the Serpentine Gallery is delighted to announce that the 10th Serpentine Gallery Pavilion is being designed by world-renowned French architect Jean Nouvel. This year’s Pavilion is the 10th commission in the Gallery’s annual series, the world’s first and most ambitious architectural programme of its kind. It will be the architect’s first completed building in the UK.

The Pavilion commission has become an international site for architectural experimentation and follows a long tradition of Pavilions by some of the world’s greatest architects. The immediacy of the commission – a maximum of six months from invitation to completion – provides a unique model worldwide.

The design for the 2010 Pavilion is a contrast of lightweight materials and dramatic metal cantilevered structures. The entire design is rendered in a vivid red that, in a play of opposites, contrasts with the green of its park setting. In London the colour reflects the iconic British images of traditional telephone boxes, post boxes and London buses.

The building consists of bold geometric forms, large retractable awnings and a freestanding wall that climbs 12m above the lawn, sloping at a gravity defying angle. It experiments with the idea of play in its incorporation of the French tradition of outdoor table-tennis. Striking glass, polycarbonate and fabric structures create a versatile system of interior and exterior spaces. The flexible auditoria will accommodate the Serpentine Gallery Park Nights and Marathon and the changing summer weather.

The Pavilion will host the 5th Serpentine Gallery Marathon, The Marathon of Maps for the 21 Century. Maps have a powerful hold on our imaginations, defining our understanding of geography, scale, space and ideas. Artists, writers, thinkers and scientists will present maps encompassing their experience of the world today.

Jean Nouvel is responsible for the design of over 200 buildings the world over, including the Copenhagen Concert Hall (2009); the Ferrari Factory, Modena (2009); Pavilion B at the Genoa Trade Fair (2009); 40 Mercer Street, New York (2008); the Musée du quai Branly, Paris (2006); the extension to the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2006); the Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis (2001); the Los Leeum Museum of Modern Art, Seoul (2004); the Torre Agbar, Barcelona (2000); the Culture and Congress Centre, Lucerne (2000), and the Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris (1989).

Nouvel’s body of work is unparalleled in its innovation and range. His approach is characterised by a conceptual rigour, rather than by an overarching aesthetic. He emphasises research, analysis and discussion, creating designs that are highly individual to each project. A key part of Nouvel’s process is his embrace of other disciplines, including music, literature and the moving image.

The Pavilion will also be the location for the Serpentine’s presentation of the renowned French artist Christian Boltanski’s acclaimed installation, Heartbeat. In this work, visitors are invited to contribute a recording of their heartbeat to an archive in a specially designed booth. The archive will be housed permanently on the uninhabited island of Ejima, Japan. The project has been ongoing since 2008 when it began as Les archives du coeur, a central installation in Boltanski’s exhibitions at Magasin 3, Stockholm, and at la maison rouge, Paris, as part of the 37th Festival d’Automne à Paris.

Nouvel’s Serpentine Gallery Pavilion will operate as a public space, a café and as a venue for Park Nights, the Gallery’s acclaimed programme of public talks and events, attracting up to 250,000 visitors every summer. The Pavilion will open in July on the Serpentine Gallery’s lawn, where it will remain until October. Nouvel will work with the structural design and engineering firm Arup, led by David Glover and Ed Clark with Cecil Balmond, to realise this project.

Julia Peyton-Jones, Director, and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-Director, Serpentine Gallery, said: “We could not be more thrilled that Jean Nouvel has accepted our invitation to design the 10th Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, the only commission of its kind worldwide that annually invites pre-eminent architects to complete their first build structure in England. It is an honour to bring Nouvel’s globally acclaimed work to London for everyone to enjoy.”

There is no budget for the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion commission. It is paid for by sponsorship, sponsorship help-in-kind and the sale of the finished structure, which does not cover more than 40% of its cost. The Serpentine Gallery collaborates with a range of companies and individuals whose support makes it possible to realise the Pavilion. On the occasion of the 10th anniversary we are delighted the Pavilion is being supported by Arts Council England, through its Sustain programme.

Moira Sinclair, Executive Director of Arts Council England, London said: 'Our Sustain fund was established to help support artistic excellence in the context of the economic downturn, and the Serpentine Pavilion is a landmark example - uniquely special to and beloved by London, and a key 'moment' on the international visual arts and architectural calendars. I am delighted that this grant, alongside our core funding to the Gallery, will help ensure a stunning Pavilion for 2010 that will inspire, intrigue and entertain everyone who explores it.'

Arup will provide all the engineering and specialist design solutions for the Pavilion. Arup Director David Glover commented: “It is a privilege to support the Pavilion programme again this year on its 10th anniversary. Arup’s commitment to the Serpentine Pavilion reflects our belief in the project and the positive experience our teams get from working with some of the most exciting architects of our time. Ateliers Jean Nouvel are renowned for taking a rigorous and contextual approach to design which brings delight and surprise to all their projects. This year’s Pavilion is sure to be no exception.”

Peter Rogers, Director of Stanhope, will donate his expertise to all aspects of the Pavilion. He said: “The Serpentine Pavilion is a unique project whose innovative and challenging designs transcend normal building projects as well as fusing art and architecture in an exciting built form.”

Serpentine Gallery | 40th anniversary | Jean Nouvel | 10th Serpentine Gallery Pavilion |


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