英國電訊報 倫敦蛇形展示藝廊:草地上的榮耀


英國電訊報 倫敦蛇形展示藝廊:草地上的榮耀

文章 » 2010 6月 18 (週五) 5:20 am


英國電訊報 倫敦蛇形展示藝廊:草地上的榮耀

倫敦海德公園蛇形展示藝廊夏季展示亭計畫, 10多年來一直給世界前衛建築師挑戰的機會。

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/ ... grass.html

Serpentine pavilion: splendour in the grass
The Serpentine Gallery's summer pavilion in London's Hyde Park has for 10 years been giving some of the world's leading architects the chance to let rip
Telegraph (UK)

Zaha Hadid is about to fly to Rome for the official inauguration of MAXXI, the extraordinary new gallery she has designed to house Italy's principal modern art collection. The Aquatics Centre she has created for the London Olympics is also taking shape nicely, its fluid, wavelike roof sure to become an iconic image of the 2012 Games.

With projects in varying stages of completion all over the world, the Iraqi-born architect now has so many buildings in construction that it is easy to forget that only a decade ago she had barely built anything at all. And it was widely assumed she never would – especially in Britain, the country she has chosen as her home. Which is why she is happy to take time out of her busy schedule now to talk about a tent.

It was a very special tent, of course – a pavilion, if you want to be grand – designed by Hadid to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Serpentine Gallery in the summer of 2000. The beautifully draped structure was intended to stand next to the gallery in Kensington Gardens for a few days, adding glamour to its big summer fundraising party. Hadid was already a trustee of the gallery – an eccentric showcase for contemporary art sited in a former tea house overlooking Hyde Park – and she set about the commission with her customary eye for detail. She even designed the furniture.

'Everything was done for that one night,' she says, indignant that some of the architecture critics who ended up owning the pieces have complained about their quality. 'They were chipboard, and they've lasted 10 years when they were supposed to last for only a day!'

When I say to the gallery's director, Julia Peyton-Jones, that it all seems a little over the top for just one party, she is equally indignant. 'If something's worth doing, it doesn't really matter if it's for a day, a year or 100 years,' she says firmly. 'Because you don't know who's going to see it, and what impact it's going to have on their lives.'

Certainly this is true of Hadid's creation. Almost by accident, it sparked one of the most innovative and exciting public architecture experiments in the world. At the party, Chris Smith, then Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, was so taken with the pavilion that he suggested it should stay in place for the rest of the summer – and since the royal parks came under his remit, he was able to cut through the red tape to make that possible. An impromptu cafe was set up, and the whole thing proved such a success that the following year Peyton-Jones approached the Polish-American architect Daniel Libeskind, whose proposed Spiral extension to the Victoria and Albert Museum was causing a huge stir at the time, to design another temporary structure.

'It was a risk, because you never know how people are going to respond, and it's something that is highly visible,' Libeskind tells me. 'Now it has a track record, with pavilions by Alvalo Siza and Frank Gehry, but then it was just the beginning. I really believed that the public of London was more open to contemporary architecture than it was given credit for. And I still think of that encounter as one of the most creative, fun things I've done. On the opening night there were all these movie stars and rock stars, people who are myths in the entertainment industry. And it was wonderful to see them with this new architecture as part of their lives. London is a very creative city. New York isn't doing this, or Paris.'

An elegant, aluminium-clad structure, the 2001 pavilion gave the public the chance to stand in a Libeskind building and experience the space for themselves. The Spiral was never built because of funding difficulties. But Libeskind has gone on to build in both London and Manchester, and his pavilion helped open up the debate on architecture in Britain.

'Sometimes projects that are ephemeral have more power than large buildings that are there for 50 years,' he says. 'For me, the pavilion was a chance to experiment. It was arduous and challenging, because we had to build so quickly, there was no funding, and we had to gather all the mat¬erials. But it gave me a basis to develop other projects. It wasn't about designing a folly, something just for entertainment. It was truly developing an architectural idea, and having the public participate in it.'

The Libeskind pavilion left another legacy: a team that has continued, against all the odds, to produce a pavilion almost every year since. Cecil Balmond, the deputy chairman of the design and engineering firm Arup (described by his regular collaborator Anish Kapoor as 'the world's greatest engineer'), collaborated closely on Libeskind's pavilion.

'We thought it would be interesting to show what we would do if we got the Spiral,' he says, sitting in the Arup office and surrounded by models of the massive sculpture he has created with Kapoor for the London Olympics. 'We saw it as a confirmation of our credentials to put something in place that would be radical, interesting. Then I met Julia, and she said the gallery wanted the pavilion to be like the art it shows: a provocation. That interested me, because all my work has been trying to provoke and radicalise form-making.'

Balmond has remained closely involved and is credited as the co-author on four of the pavilions, while Arup has provided technical support for them all. Mace, the company that built the London Eye among other landmarks, has project-managed the construction each year. Westminster Council's planning department and the staff of the royal parks pull out the stops to make the project happen, while Sir Richard Rogers and his wife, Ruth, hold a private party at their home each year to thank the sponsors and the construction people who give their time and expertise free of charge. Meanwhile Sir Richard's brother Peter, a founder of the construction and development company Stanhope, has taken on the role of 'fixer'.

'I scrounge things, basically,' Peter says. 'I speak to old friends who are good at doing steel or timber work or glass or whatever, saying, "Come and join in, this is good fun, and you can give a bit back by giving this free or discounted." ' He looks forward to his regular meetings on the roof of the gallery during construction: 'I get paid in coffee and brownies,' he says, laughing. 'I've even been out there with a saw or a drill to help get a pavilion finished. You've just got to be willing to muck in.'

For Londoners, the weird and wonderful buildings that appear in July and vanish with the autumn leaves have become part of the summer landscape, and if you go to Hyde Park this weekend, you'll see plenty of passers-by rubbernecking over the fence protecting the build site, trying to see what the acclaimed French architect Jean Nouvel will be offering this year.

The architect is chosen by the Serpentine, rather than by competition, and must never have built in Britain before. He or she is approached in Novem¬ber, goes to planning in February, and the build usually goes up in six weeks to be ready for the summer party. The budget is minimal, and the architects receive only a stipend, the same small, token payment the gallery offers when it commissions new work from an artist.

It is, though, a chance to play, to experiment, and to produce an interesting new building quickly, with very few restrictions. There is always a cafe to draw people in, and the building has to comply with health and safety regulations and fit around the site's numerous trees. But otherwise, the Serp¬entine team works hard to realise the architect's vision as fully as possible. 'Of course there are limitations,' Peyton-Jones says. 'But we try, wherever possible, to break those down and do something that will go into the history books.'

For Peyton-Jones, each of the pavilions has been an adventure, a journey into a different architect's creative process. She sat in on the discussions that led the renowned Japanese architect Toyo Ito to create a building out of a deceptively simple algorithm – a pattern of triangles drawn inside and outside the borders of a square – proposed by Balmond. 'It confirmed to the doubters that there is another way to make architectural form,' Balmond says. 'And its influence was huge, because algorithmic work is now everywhere.'

A year later Peyton-Jones went to visit the great buildings of Brasilia, attended rehearsals for a carnival celebrating their veteran architect Oscar Niemeyer, then went to his office overlooking Copacabana beach and returned bearing sketches for the 2003 pavilion; Brazil's President Lula was among the VIP visitors that year.

In 2004 she and her team tried valiantly to build the 23m-high mountain that the radical Dutch practice MVRDV envisaged completely covering the gallery. 'We tried every which way to do it,' she says, still miserable about their eventual failure. 'The whole team did their best, and the architects couldn't have done more, but it was just too expensive.'

It is little wonder that the following year's tortoise-like wooden pavilion, created by Portugal's Alvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura, was perhaps the most conservative, although Cecil Balmond remains justly proud of the way they adapted a medieval building practice of mortise and tenon to create staggered joints instead of straight lines across the structure. 'It gave a real vibration to the whole form,' he says, recalling spending the summer party that year looking not at guests such as Paris Hilton and Rod Stewart but at the shadows created by the disco lights on the roof. 'I was looking at the way the pink and blue lights were playing against the shadows, and the liveliness of the timber. That was a nice, private moment.'

In 2006 Balmond worked with his old friend Rem Koolhaas on perhaps the strangest pavilion of all. Inspired partly by the huge fabric sculpture Balmond had helped Anish Kapoor create in the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern, it was a room with a giant air-filled ball in it that could expand or contract, depending on how the room was being used. This too was much admired by other architects: 'It's surprising how many people refer to it, when I travel around.'

The Koolhaas bubble also marked the arrival of the Serpentine's Swiss co-director Hans Ulrich Obrist, who began to expand the programme of events in the pavilion dramatically, culminating in a now-annual marathon event. The first one saw Obrist and Koolhaas interviewing 72 prominent Londoners over 24 hours. In the following years, they have had artists and architects performing public science experiments, a manifesto marathon, and another exploring poetry.

'The pavilion is a place for unlikely encounters,' Obrist says. 'It starts in the morning when the joggers come and people read their morning paper there. Then people come for lunch, hold meetings, or just bring their laptops and work. In the evening there are often events, and it's a space for ideas and discussion. It's one of the most used spaces in London in the summer, with something different happening there at any moment.'

In 2007 the steel in the flying saucer designed by the artist Olafur Eliasson and his regular architect collaborator Kjetil Thorsen proved impossible to source in Britain within budget. For the first time, some of the work had to be done outside Britain, and as a result the pavilion was delayed, opening in late August and remaining in place until November. But Zaha Hadid stepped once more into the breach with Lilas, a sensual, mushroom-like structure that provided the setting for the summer party in July. 'I was glad to do it,' Hadid says. 'I think it's a great programme. I remember being in the Oscar Niemeyer pavilion with a friend, and her little daughter was rolling around on the ramps and giggling. That was very nice.'

Frank Gehry is the only architect I spoke to who does not look back on the project with unbridled fondness. His daughter died during the making of his 2008 pavilion, he explains, and as a result he got to see it only once in its London setting. There were, however, some pleasures for the man who put Bilbao on the map with the Guggenheim Museum, and has given Los Angeles the nearest it has to a centre with the graceful curves of the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

He was able to collaborate with his son Samuel for the first time, and particularly likes the roof they created, which Sam described as looking like a cloud of butterflies. He also introduced the Serpentine team to his friend the experimental British composer Thomas Ades, who opened the pavilion with a one-off performance. 'I built him a concert venue,' the architect says with satisfaction. 'Although only a small one.'

After Gehry's grandiose wooden street-like pavilion, the 2009 design by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of Sanaa was deceptively simple, with an aluminium roof reflecting the Serpentine lake opposite. 'I thought it was going to be a piece of cake,' Peter Rogers says. 'But because it was so light, the quality had to be really good to make it work. You had this fabulous mirrored roof reflecting all the trees in the park, and it was very beautiful. It was like a giant floating leaf, or a cloud.'

The economic downturn has, he admits, made the job of sourcing materials more difficult, with companies wary of making big donations while they are laying off members of their workforce. 'It's quite difficult to spend £100,000 on a sexy artwork when you've just had to make 50 guys redundant,' Rogers says. 'So the last couple of years have been pretty tough. But Julia is a master of squeezing just a little bit extra out of every scheme. She's not a big, political bully. She's quiet, she works like mad, and she never gives up.'

This year's architect, Jean Nouvel, relies on context to suggest the shape his buildings should take, rather than repeating a set style. 'I have no career vocabulary,' he says. 'I try to find the missing piece of the puzzle in every situation.' To research his pavilion, he spent time walking around Hyde Park, looking at the light and the landscape, but also the way Londoners use the space. 'That was very interesting for me, because so many people are happy and playing all kinds of sports or games. The urban parks you have in London are fantastic. We need to have something more like this in Paris.'

In the end, he settled on a bright red, adjustable structure incorporating huge blinds that will contrast with the natural greens surrounding it and reflect the sun, as well as echoing the red of Lon¬don's buses, postboxes and old telephone booths. It will be a playful space, even including table tennis to encourage summer fun and games. 'It's more like an artwork than traditional architecture,' Nouvel says. 'What is exciting is to create emotions and unexpected sensations. I hope it will be a pleasure to come here.'

Zaha Hadid would have liked the pavilions to have a more public afterlife, finding new homes in parks across Britain. But the budget means that instead they are dismantled and sold, recouping up to 40 per cent of their cost to help fund the following year's scheme.

Hadid's 2000 pavilion went to the Royal Shakespeare Company, which used it as a summer cafe outside its theatre in Stratford upon Avon until materials that were meant for only one night's use finally began to wear away. The rest are in the hands of private collectors, although Libeskind's pavilion reappeared in Cork when it was European Capital of Culture in 2005.

'I used to hate the fact that it ended so quickly,' Balmond admits. 'You put so much into it, and then three months later, it's gone. But what's good is that it never gets familiar.'

Peyton-Jones admits she sometimes has to pinch herself to believe that her team has pulled it off, year after year. 'If anyone had said to me, 10 years ago, that I was going to ask some of the best architects in the world to give up their time, to lead a project on a tiny piece of land at a breathtaking speed, with no money, I'd have said they were mad,' she laughs. 'But that's what's come to pass. It is such a leap of faith, for everybody. You leap, and you can't look down. That's the way it works.'

The Jean Nouvel pavilion opens on July 11 (serpentinegallery.org)

張基義Chi-Yi Chang
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