By MIKA ROSS-SOUTHALL
Temporary architecture was a rare and radical thing when the Serpentine Gallery started their summer pavilion project fifteen years ago. The prototype pavilion in 2000 was designed by Zaha Hadid, who, back then, was little more than a “paper architect” (barely any of her designs had been built); and many international heavyweights of the architectural (and occasionally art) world have been invited to create one every year since, including Daniel Libeskind, Oscar Niemeyer, Álvaro Siza, Frank Gehry, Olafur Eliasson, Ai Weiwei and Herzog & de Meuron, as well as lesser-known names in the past couple of years.
Each pavilion takes six months from design to completion, and “costs the same as it would to put up a tent on the park’s lawn”, Julia Peyton-Jones, the co-director of the Serpentine Gallery, reminded us yesterday at the opening of this year’s structure, designed by the Spanish architects SelgasCano (José Selgas and Lucía Cano; they’re also responsible for a recent polytunnel-type pop-up café just off Brick Lane). “We commission the pavilion architects in the same way we commission artists in the gallery”, Peyton-Jones added. “We push them with almost impossible requirements.”