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Constantin Bjerke

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Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2011: A Sensory Architectural Experience (VIDEO)

Posted: 07/28/11 01:05 AM ET

Swiss architect Peter Zumthor's latest creation wills people to stop for a minute and think. This year's Serpentine Gallery Pavilion is constructed under the concept of hortus conclusus--an enclosed garden, or in this case, a garden within a garden.


The Pavilion's structure is made with lightweight timber wrapped with scrim and coated with black Idenden. The black edifice in London's Kensington Gardens holds within it a serene contemplative garden designed by Piet Oudolf. The building, abstracted from the noise and hustle of the city, acts as a stage, a backdrop for flowers and light.

Various doorways offer multiple paths into the garden, surrounded by covered walkways and seating, allowing visitors to observe and relax.

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Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2011
Designed by Peter Zumthor
© Peter Zumthor
Photograph: Hufton+Crow
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Zumthor began his career working as a cabinetmaker for his father. He is a humble architect disinterested in the commercial sphere, but passionate about the artistic element of his craft. The Pavilion, the eleventh to be commissioned by the Serpentine Gallery, is Zumthor's first completed building in the UK.

There are clear sensory and spiritual intentions in this piece, similar to his Thermal Baths at Vals, Switzerland or the Bruder Klaus Chapel in Germany. But there is no statement. He sees the beauty of this project within the quiet that it asks for. The building is not a symbol, he says, it just is.

Text by Fiona Sinclair Scott for Crane.tv

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