In 2016 the Serpentine Galleries in London’s Kensington Gardens expanded the annual summer pavilion program to include four Summer Houses curated by Julia Peyton-Jones and Hans Ulrich Obrist. Adjacent to Queen Caroline’s Temple, an 18th-century historical “summer house” attributed to William Kent and situated in the proximity of the Serpentine Gallery, the Summer House designed by Barkow Leibinger referred to a second, today extinct pavilion also designed by William Kent. The small historical pavilion would rotate mechanically 360 degrees at the top of the hill, offering various panoramic views of the park and, reciprocally, different views of itself when seen from the park.
Barkow Leibinger’s Summer House was designed as a freestanding pavilion in-the-round with all of its sides visible. It was conceived as a series of undulating bands reminiscent of a contour line drawing. Four bands of structure organized the pavilion: a bench level attached to the ground; a second band of three C-shaped walls; and a third and fourth level crown formed from a cantilevering tree-like canopy roof hovering over the smaller undulating wood bench footprint below. The Summer House was constructed with a bendy plywood skin over a steel tube frame, materials intrinsically in harmony with the looping geometry of the structure.
Serpentine Architecture Programme 2016: Pavilion and Summer Houses, London, UK June 10th — October 9th, 2016
Architects Barkow Leibinger, Berlin Frank Barkow, Regine Leibinger