New Details Revealed for the 22nd Serpentine Pavilion

    The 22nd Pavilion, designed by French-Lebanese Paris-based architect Lina Ghotmeh, will be unveiled to the public at Serpentine South on Friday 9 June 2023 with Goldman Sachs supporting the annual project for the 9th consecutive year.

    In a new collaboration with The Conran Shop, Lina Ghotmeh has designed two new exclusive pieces of furniture for this year’s Pavilion. Celebrating nature and conviviality, the tables and stools will dress the interior of the structure. Crafted from oak, with a dark-red finish, the 25 tables and 57 stools will come together to complete a ceremonial display inside the Pavilion.

    On Wednesday 7th June, Lina Ghotmeh will be in conversation with Serpentine Artistic Director Hans Ulrich Obrist exploring the inspiration behind the Pavilion, Ghotmeh’s “Archaeology of the Future” and the history of the commission. More information here.

    Honouring the history of the Serpentine building as a former teahouse, Ghotmeh will contribute a new menu based on organic ingredients in collaboration with Benugo. The menu will be available at the Pavilion throughout the summer months.

    Designed by James Grey West, the Serpentine South building opened in 1934 and originally functioned as a teahouse until the early 1960s, before becoming an art gallery. In the summer months, the café’s seating area also extended to the lawn, which the Pavilion will occupy.

    Later in the summer, the Pavilion will also be the platform for Serpentine’s Summer programme, Park Nights, the annual series of experimental and interdisciplinary encounters. Practitioners in the fields of art, architecture, music, film, philosophy and technology will be commissioned to create new, site-specific work in response to Ghotmeh’s structure.

    Serpentine Pavilion 2023 – À table

    Inspired by the architect’s Mediterranean heritage and fervent discussions around the table over current affairs, politics, personal lives, and dreams, the Pavilion is titled À table – a French call to sit down together at a table to engage and participate in dialogue while sharing a meal. As such, the interior of the Pavilion features a concentric table along the perimeter, inviting us to convene, sit down, think, share and celebrate exchanges that enable new relationships to form.

    Considering food as an expression of care, the Pavilion’s design is a space for grounding and reflection on our relationship to land, nature and environment. By offering a moment of conviviality around a table, Ghotmeh welcomes us to share the ideas, concerns, joys, dissatisfactions, responsibilities, traditions, cultural memories, and histories that bring us together.

    Structure and Build

    Built predominantly from bio-sourced and low-carbon materials, the Serpentine Pavilion 2023 continues Ghotmeh’s focus on sustainability and designing spaces that are conceived in dialogue with the natural environment that surrounds them. The design of the space responds to the shape of the surrounding tree canopies, the internal wooden beams that encircle the perimeter of the Pavilion emerge as thin tree trunks. The fretwork panels that sit between the beams feature plant-like cut out patterns, allowing natural light and ventilation. The Pavilion’s pleated roof is inspired by a structure of a palm leaf and the lightwell in the middle furthers the space’s integration with its environment. The structure’s modest low roof takes inspiration from togunas: structures found in Mali, West Africa, which are traditionally used for community gatherings to discuss current issues, but also to offer shade and relief from heat. The low-lying roofs of these structures encourage people to remain seated peacefully and pause throughout discussions.

    Placing nature, the organic and sustainability at its core, Ghotmeh’s Pavilion will be designed to minimise its carbon footprint and environmental impact, in line with Serpentine’s sustainability policy.

    The predominantly timber structure will be light-weight and fully demountable, with a focus on sustainably sourced materials and the reusability of the structure after its time installed at Serpentine.

    Lina Ghotmeh, Architect said: “There is such enthusiasm as the Pavilion's opening draws near and an occasion to provide a space for people to simply enjoy, stroll, and meet while discussing on the difficulties of today to spur the necessary change. The Pavilion rises as a wooden structure in keeping with the natural surroundings, inviting us to sit around exquisitely crafted stools and tables and take in the surroundings. Collaborating with The Conran Shop to create the tables and chairs I envisaged for the Pavilion, has been fantastic on this occasion. The Pavilion serves as a place of meeting, togetherness, conviviality, and joy, and the furniture serves as its focal point.”

    Bettina Korek, Chief Executive, and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director, said: “We are honoured to unveil Lina Ghotmeh’s first structure in the UK, À table, which continues in Serpentine’s mission of building new connections between artists and society. Drawing on natural elements that reflect its local surroundings, Ghotmeh’s design promotes unity and conviviality in its form and function. We are endlessly grateful to our loyal partners and supporters for making Ghotmeh’s remarkable concept for a Pavilion into an inspiring reality. Like all our programmes, À table will be open to all, and our hub for free summer programming in the park.”

    The 22nd Serpentine Pavilion marks the ninth year of support from Pavilion Sponsors Goldman Sachs. Richard Gnodde, CEO, Goldman Sachs International, said “Goldman Sachs is immensely proud of our long-standing partnership with Serpentine. Since 2015, we have been delighted to support the annual Serpentine Pavilion commission and are looking forward to seeing Lina Ghotmeh’s incredible Á table structure come to life this summer. Lina’s focus on the intersection of art, architecture and design, taking inspiration from nature and the surrounding parkland, promises to be truly unique and will provide opportunities to convene, exchange ideas and reflect. Thank you to Lina, the team at Serpentine and all our partners for collaborating on this pioneering project.”

    Campbell Thompson, Head of Furniture & Lighting at The Conran Shop said: “It has been a real privilege to collaborate with Lina on the development of her designs from sketches to final pieces. The furniture will perfectly complement and enhance the stunning structure.”

    Aecom’s Director, Jon Leach said: “The Pavilion has been conceived so that every piece contributes both to the delicate, leaf-like form and to the structural stability of the canopy. We set out to use simple, lightweight, and readily available timber materials to create a unique structure that focuses on people, the community and its environment.”

    Tim Leigh, Managing Director at Stage One Creative Services said: "It's always a pleasure to return to Serpentine, and we are honoured to have been commissioned for the fourteenth consecutive year. Every time we are presented with a radically different design, and we especially appreciate how these architectural plans are experimental. The innovative design by Lina Ghotmeh complements our desire to use more sustainable materials while also advancing our expertise in mass timber building. Additionally, we have used pre-cast concrete pads for the second year in a row, which lowers the total amount of carbon embodied in the project and permits reuse of same foundation when the Pavilion is rebuilt in its permanent position.”

    This year’s Pavilion selection was made by Serpentine Artistic Director Hans Ulrich Obrist, CEO Bettina Korek, Director of Construction and Special Projects Julie Burnell, Director of Curatorial Affairs and Public Practice Yesomi Umolu, and Curator at Large, Architecture and Site-specific Projects Natalia Grabowska together with advisors Sir David Adjaye OM OBE and David Glover. In 2022, Sir Adjaye was appointed to the Order of Merit, selected by Her Majesty the Queen, in recognition of distinguished service in the armed forces, science, art, literature, or for the promotion of culture.

    Serpentine would also like to acknowledge the work and dedication of the late architect Richard Rogers to this yearly commission. Rogers was an integral part of the Serpentine Pavilion team and served as an Advisor since 2017.

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