[Inspiration] Zumthor’s Serpentine Pavilion 2011

For the AIAS chapter at RISD, a series of blogposts exposed students’ experience visiting interesting architecture sites or working in different architecture offices. In the post below, a friend described her experience visiting Zumthor’s pavilion. Looking back at the post, I realize that i might have been subconsciously inspired by the simple, mysterious and dark allure of this project- which I remember liking upon reading her entry.

When approaching this year Serpentine Pavillion by Swiss Architect Peter Zumthor, I could not help but compare its modest appearance to last year’s luminous red social hub, designed by Jean Nouvel. Zumthor’s black box in comparison is more somber and mysterious, and gently invites people to venture inside.

Four entryways on opposing sides of the pavilion allow visitors into a dark slender enclosed corridor, with another four openings to a garden within. A rectangular bed of grasses and flowers designed by Piet Oudolf sits at the center of the inner space, mirrored directly above by an opening to the sky. The roof’s moderate pitch that ends at this open slit allows light to pour into the structure.

As I sat with other visitors to the pavilion, lining the edge of this courtyard, I felt like this stretched space with darks walls, and single opening to the sky, made us all very hypersensitive to the nature within.  Interestingly, I felt as if the structure allowed me to appreciate nature far more than I had when I was completely surrounded by it in Hyde Park moments earlier.

Melanie Wavamunno, RISD B.Arch 12