Grass Not Greener at Serpentine

Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Caption TK

Japanese perfection meets British bodginess. (Andrew Mead)

The excitement over the annual Serpentine Pavilion in London’s Kensington Gardens often has more to do with the modish names that are commissioned than the quality of their designs. But after last year’s ponderously wooden effort from Frank Gehry, the Serpentine has struck lucky this summer with an elegant pavilion by SANAA. Sporting a multi-lobed roof of polished aluminium on hyper-slender columns, it looks terrific—at least until you notice the surrounding landscape, where a fringe of white stone chippings abruptly gives way to ineptly-laid squares of turf that already are brown and eroded. Each year the Serpentine hosts one of London’s hottest parties, where the art world mingles with money and supposed celebrities, but this ragged landscape can’t be blamed on the heels of the fashionistas. No, this is where Japanese refinement meets good old British bodging and in that contest there will only ever be one winner.

Keep off the grass? (Photos: Andrew Mead)

Just wait 'til the fashionistas show up.

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2 Responses to “Grass Not Greener at Serpentine”

  1. D. Hopkins says:

    I’m certainly not defending the British, the “landscaping” (or whatever you call that) is a drag. But, what’s up with using what appears to be concrete slabs as a foundation for the structures? With all the options that are available is that really the best they could do?

  2. Sarah says:

    As for the “ponderously wooden effort from Frank Gehry” that you speak of, this pavilion is much less elegant and frankly I consider it an eyesore…and that is BEFORE you take a look at the landscaping. Last year’s pavilion was much more appropriate for the site and MUCH more easier on the eyes. This pavilion does not compare to the craft of last years.

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