After 11 years, Danish architect Bjarke Ingels has finally landed in the UK with the opening of this year's Serpentine Gallery Pavilion
Comprised of 1,802 stacked fiber glass boxes and spanning 273 square feet, Ingels' likens the structure to an "unzipped" wall.
"By taking something as conventional as a wall or a giant shelf and pulling it apart to make new spaces, you're actually creating something extraordinary out of the ordinary," said the BIG Architects
founder ahead of its June 10 opening.
"I think that's, at its core, what architecture is: It's creating poetry out of the practical; it's taking all of those quotidian elements and putting them together in a way that becomes an adventure."
The pavilion comes one month after BIG opened their London office, the first outside of Copenhagen and New York.
"It's the perfect way to kick off having a real presence here," said Ingels. "England has some of the best architects in the world, and London is a city that -- like New York -- is a cosmopolitan capital of the world."
Bigamy by design
From June 10 to October 9, the pavilion will act as both a public and private space, serving as a café and general outdoor curiosity by day, before transforming into an venue for performances and educational talks after nightfall.
But the duality extends beyond its usage. The design of the pavilion reflects what Ingels refers to as "bigamy," the concept of combining seemingly disparate elements in a single structure.
"[The pavilion] is a wall that becomes a hole; something that's opaque that becomes transparent; something that's curvilinear that becomes octagonal; something that is a sculptural shape that also becomes a grid or a matrix," he said.
"It definitely has something Minecraft-esque, for sure."
In the past, BIG has taken this contradictory hybridity to impressive extremes. Via 57 West apartment tower, a "courtscraper" that opened in New York earlier this year, combines a European style communal courtyard with the density of a skyscraper; while the in-progress Amager Bakke power plant in Copenhagen will have a public park -- complete with hiking paths and ski slopes -- on the roof.
After completing its term at the Serpentine, the pavilion will be installed across Asia and North America. Because of its prefabricated nature, it can be easily disassembled and reassembled with minimal effort.
Maximizing the life of a structure -- even something as temporary as a pavilion -- is something Ingels takes seriously.
He recalls the 400-year-old wooden houses he's seen in the Faroe Islands, where BIG is currently building an education center. While the materials could not naturally survive for centuries without decomposing, the continuous care of the inhabitants -- replacing rotting planks, reapplying paint -- have kept them in livable condition.
"I guess you want to see, ideally, your children outlive you," he says.
"Any structure can live forever, not because of the materials you put into it. If it remains relevant to the people using it, or inhabiting it, they will care for it and it will last."