Chilean architect Smiljan Radic, Hon. AIA, is the designer for the 2014 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, which will be open to the public from June 26 to October 19 in London’s Kensington Gardens. His 3,767-square-foot bulbous structure, held up by stone monoliths, will be made from translucent fiberglass that allows ambient light to filter into the interior, which will house a café. “Externally, the visitor will see a fragile shell suspended on large quarry stones,” Radic said in a release. “At night, thanks to the semi-transparency of the shell, the amber tinted light will attract the attention of passers-by, like lamps attracting moths.”
Radic’s design, with its exterior opacity and organic form, is a stark contrast to the 2013 pavilion, designed by Sou Fujimoto, which focused on the Japanese architectural technique of bracketing. That latticelike form, created from 20mm-diameter steel poles, drew nearly 200,000 visitors, making it one of the institution’s most visited summer pavilions to date.
Since the program began in 2000, the Serpentine Gallery has selected a parade of luminaries to design its annual folly. While Radic is in good company with the likes of Peter Zumthor (who designed the 2011 pavilion), and Toyo Ito, Hon. FAIA (in 2002), he is perhaps the one of the lesser known architects selected to date. (Zaha Hadid, Hon. FAIA, designed the institution's inaugural summer pavilion, and completed a new permanent space on the campus, the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, last year).
Prolific in his home country of Chile, Radic is known for projects such as the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino and the Restaurant Mestizo, both in Santiago, and the House for the Poem of the Right Angle in Vilches. His international commissions include The Wardrobe and the Mattress in Tokyo and The Bus Stop Commission in Kumbranch, Austria. He has also lecture extensively, and in addition to running an practice, which he opened in Santiago in 1995, he has mounted several international exhibitions of his work.
But it wasn’t until his installation at the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale, a collaboration with sculptor Marcela Correa in the exhibition "People Meet in Architecture," that he caught the Serpentine Galleries’ eye. “Radic is a key protagonist of an amazing architectural explosion in Chile,” Julia Peyton-Jones, director, and Hans Ulrich Obrist, co-director, Serpentine Galleries, said in a release. “While enigmatically archaic, in the tradition of romantic follies, Radic’s designs for the Pavilion also look excitingly futuristic, appearing like an alien space pod that has come to rest on a Neolithic site.”
During the day, visitors will see the pavilion as a social space. On several Friday evenings during the structure’s four-month tenure in the park, it will host site-specific events as part of the Gallery’s Park Nights series. AECOM will serve as cost and project manager for Radic's pavilion, in addition to providing engineering and technical services.