Sunday, July 24, 2011
Another trip nicely enhanced by Facebook! When friends from Norway learned that I was going to be in London when they were, we arranged to meet at the Peter Zumthor pavilion at the Serpentine Gallery. Each year the Serpentine commissions a temporary work by a well-known architect. The last one I saw was by Frank Gehry, whose work I do admire, but that project looked like something he’d handed over to an intern (the pictures here make it look much more interesting than it actually was). Black, monolithic, and forbidding on the exterior, the Zumthor pavilion contains a nice surprise in the form of a rectangular atrium, open to the sky, with a central flower garden running its length, as well as tables and chairs for sitting and enjoying a spot of tea. It seems appropriate and much more generous for an architect to build something with a function—especially one that encourages lingering and socializing—rather than an oversize sculpture you can only walk around in and supposedly be awed by.