Serpentine Pavilion 2016

BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group as Architects

For the Serpentine Pavilion 2016, we have attempted to design a structure that embodies multiple aspects that are often perceived as opposites: a structure that is free-form yet rigorous, modular yet sculptural, both transparent and opaque, both box and blob. We decided to work with one of the most basic elements of architecture: the brick wall. Rather than clay bricks or stone blocks – the wall is erected from extruded fiberglass frames stacked on top of each other. The wall is pulled apart to form a cavity within it, to house the events of the Pavilion’s programme. The unzipping of the wall turns the line into a surface, transforming the wall into a space. A complex three-dimensional environment is created that can be explored and experienced in a variety of ways: inside and outside. At the top, the wall appears like a straight line, while the bottom of it forms a sheltered valley at the entrance of the Pavilion and an undulating hillside towards the park.


The unzipped wall creates a cave-like canyon lit through the fiberglass frames and the gaps between the shifted boxes as well as through the translucent resin of the fiberglass. As a result, the shifting overlaps as well as the movement and presence of people outside create a lively play of light and shadow on the cave walls within.


The materials include wooden floors and extruded Lay Light by Fiberline profiles, providing every surface with a warm glow and linear texture – from the mesh of woven glass fibers to the undulating lines of the grain of the wood.


This simple manipulation of the archetypical space-defining garden wall creates a presence in the Park that changes as you move around it and through it. The North-South elevation of the Pavilion is a perfect rectangle. The East-West elevation is an undulating sculptural silhouette. Towards the East-West, the Pavilion is completely opaque and material. Towards the North-South, it is entirely transparent and practically immaterial. As a result, presence becomes absence, orthogonal becomes curvilinear, structure becomes gesture and box becomes blob.


3-Mar-2016 For the Serpentine Pavilion 2016, we have attempted to design a structure that embodies multiple aspects that are often perceived as opposites: a structure that is free-form yet rigorous, modular yet sculptural, both transparent and opaque, both solid box and blob. We decided to work with one of the most basic elements of architecture: the brick wall. Rather than clay bricks or stone blocks, the wall is erected from extruded fibreglass frames stacked on top of each other. The wall is then pulled apart to form a cavity within it, to house the events of the Pavilion’s programme. This unzipping of the wall turns the line into a surface, transforming the wall into a space. A complex three-dimensional environment is created which can be explored and experienced in a variety of ways, inside and outside. At the top, the wall appears like a straight line, while the bottom, it forms a sheltered valley at the entrance of the Pavilion and an undulating hillside towards the Park.

Unzipped Wall

Serpentine Gallery as Client

The Serpentine Pavilion, designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), is an ‘unzipped wall’ that is transformed from straight line to three-dimensional space, creating a dramatic structure that by day houses a café and free family activities and by night becomes a space for the Serpentine’s acclaimed Park Nights programme of performative works by artists, writers and musicians. Kunlé Adeyemi’s Summer House is an inverse replica of Queen Caroline’s Temple - a tribute to its robust form, space and material, recomposed into a new sculptural object. Barkow Leibinger were inspired by another, now extinct, 18th Century pavilion also designed by William Kent, which rotated and offered 360 degree views of the Park. Yona Friedman’s Summer House takes the form of a modular structure that can be assembled and disassembled in different formations and builds upon the architect’s pioneering project La Ville Spatiale (Spatial City) begun in the late 1950s. Asif Khan’s design is inspired by the fact that Queen Caroline’s Temple was positioned in a way that it would allow it to catch the sunlight from The Serpentine lake.

A fascination with fibres

Lay Light by Fiberline as Glass fibre facade

The creation of the spectacular Serpentine Pavilion 2016 is the result of productive collaboration between a leading contemporary architect and the manufacturers of an innovative new material that builds a bridge between aesthetics and function.


Lay Light is a translucent composite that allows light to pass through the layers of glass fibres that make up its structure. It is also the material that has been used to build this year's Serpentine Pavilion in Kensington Gardens, London. Discussing the choice of Fiberline's Lay Light for this year's Serpentine pavilion, architect Bjarke Ingels of BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group comments:


"We have long been excited about the properties of Lay Light, which we know from previous projects such as the Transitlager in Basel, our own company offices, and also a furniture system that we developed jointly with Fiberline for which Lay Light's extreme strength and low weight are ideal."


"Commissioned with the prestigious task of designing Serpentine Pavilion 2016, which spans the divide between both building and furniture, and having less than six months to do the concept, design, planning and construction, it was logical that we should join forces with some of our existing partners. The pavilion was conceived as a cellular brick wall that had been opened up – unzipped – to create a sculptural space. In this context all Lay Light's positive attributes found absolute relevance."


At Fiberline Composites we are proud to be so deeply involved with the celebrated Serpentine Pavilion. Stig Krogh Pedersen, Fiberline's VP of Window & Façade profiles, comments:


"We are honoured to be a part of this year's Serpentine exhibition, and we are delighted that BIG have chosen our Lay Light product for such an exciting construction as the 2016 pavilion. This represents a unique opportunity to showcase the aesthetic and constructional possibilities of the material for architects all over the world.”


SERPENTINE PAVILION 2016

Dinesen as Wood flooring

Dinesen is part of BIG’s celebration of architecture in this year’s Serpentine Pavilion in London, a creation to be explored and experienced from all angles in a stunning meeting between fiberglass and tree.


There are many reasons to visit London. One of them is the recurring architectural summer exhibition in Kensington Gardens. The philosophy of the Serpentine Galleries is to introduce contemporary international architecture to a wider audience in the built form in stunning green surroundings instead of using models and drawings in a more traditional setting.


Acclaimed Danish architect Bjarke Ingels (Bjarke Ingels Group/BIG) is the latest addition to a number of prominent names commissioned to design the prestigious annual Serpentine Pavilion – from Zaha Hadid, Jean Nouvel and Frank Gehry to Japanese Sanaa – and it is a unique opportunity to experience the work and visions of an architect that has never completed a permanent structure in the UK.


A complex space


The exhibition runs from 10 June to 9 October 2016 and is expected to draw more than 500 000 visitors across Kensington Gardens to visit the pavilion, a structure created to be explored both from the inside and outside. BIG decided to work with a basic element in architecture: the brick wall. It is erected from extruded fiberglass frames, unzipped as if there was a zip in the centre of the wall and thus transformed into a complex three-dimensional, cave-like space.


More than 300 m2 of Douglas planks from Dinesen add to the architectural experience of the dramatic, yet elegant monument. The pleasant feeling inside the pavilion is enhanced by the wooden floors and furniture made of Douglas fir, providing every surface with a warm glow and linear texture.


Other collaborators apart from Dinesen are Fiberline Composites, Sapa Extrusions Denmark and Akt II.


The pavilion is placed in the green surroundings of Kensington Gardens. Photo: Iwan Baan.

Products used in this project
Product Spec Sheet

ElementBrandProduct link
Glass fibre facadeLay Light by FiberlineLay Light
LightingZumtobel Lighting Gmbh
Wood flooringDinesen
aluminiumSAPA Extrusions Denmark A/S
Product Spec Sheet
Glass fibre facade
Wood flooring
by Dinesen
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