Serpentine Gallery Pavilion to be enclosed garden

by Rhiannon James

Peter Zumthor's design for the Serpentine Gallery pavilion. Photograph: © Peter Zumthor

A garden created by influential Dutch designer, Piet Oudolf will be at the heart of this year’s Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in Kensington Gardens.

The pavilion, which is in the hands of Swiss architect Peter Zumthor this year, is based on the idea of a hortus conclusus or enclosed garden and aims to create a quiet, meditative space away from the bustle of the city.

Visitors will walk through a dark passageway between the outer and inner walls to reach Mr Oudolf’s hidden, sunlit garden at the pavilion’s centre.

The pavilion will be Mr Zumthor’s first completed building in the UK. He said, “The building acts as a stage, a backdrop for the interior garden of flowers and light. Through blackness and shadow, one enters the building from the lawn and begins the transition into the central garden, a place abstracted from the world of noise and traffic and the smells of London – an interior space within which to sit, to walk, to observe the flowers. This experience will be intense and memorable, as will the materials themselves – full of memory and time.”

The hortus conclusus originates from the medieval period when walled gardens were created as private retreats for peaceful contemplation and recreation. The enclosed garden also became strongly associated with the Virgin Mary, symbolising purity and impenetrability, and was a common setting for images of the Virgin in Medieval art.

Mr Oudolf said, “I am very pleased to be collaborating with Peter Zumthor and the Serpentine Gallery on this year’s pavilion and to be part of this exciting project. My work aims to bring nature back into human surroundings and this pavilion provides the perfect opportunity for people to reflect and relax in a contemplative garden away from the busy metropolis.”

This year’s pavilion, which is the eleventh commission in the Serpentine Gallery’s annual series, will be open from July to October.



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