AECOM’s Serpentine Pavilion opens for summer

In March AECOM was appointed, for the second time running, to this year’s Pavilion, designed by Chilean architect, Smiljan Radic. The team, led by David Glover, AECOM’s Global CEO of Building Engineering who has worked on most of the Pavilions since its inception in 2000, provided engineering and technical services for the project. Additionally, this year AECOM was also appointed to provide cost and project management services.

The team worked closely with Radic, who at 48 is one of the youngest and lesser known architects selected for the Pavilion, to deliver the temporary, semi-translucent, cylindrical structure.

The design was influenced by Smiljan Radic’s 2010 papier mâché sculpture, The Selfish Giant’s Castle, which was inspired by the Oscar Wilde story. The challenge for AECOM lay in finding a way to create a life size representation of a papier mâché castle that was strong enough to withstand the hundreds of thousands of visitors that the pavilion attracts every year and whilst remaining attractive for its future owner. With the use of glass reinforced plastic (GRP), a steel frame and a dedicated team, AECOM was able to rise to the challenge and erect the structure on-site in just six weeks.

David Glover, commented:

“The Serpentine Pavilion is internationally recognised as one of the most important and exciting projects in London’s cultural calendar and AECOM is pleased to be working with Smiljan, the Serpentine team and Stage One for this year’s Pavilion. We have worked to ensure Smiljan Radic’s vision for the pavilion is maintained, while delivering it within the project’s tight timeframe. This is always a big challenge, but it is what makes the Pavilion such a special and exciting project to work on.”

Smiljan Radić, designer of the fourteenth Serpentine Pavilion, said:

“The Serpentine 2014 Pavilion is part of the history of small romantic constructions seen in parks or large gardens, the so-called follies, which were hugely popular from the end of the 16th Century to the start of the 19th. Externally, the visitor will see a fragile shell suspended on large quarry stones. This shell – white, translucent and made of fibreglass – will house an interior organised around an empty patio, from where the natural setting will appear lower, giving the sensation that the entire volume is floating. 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.”

The Pavilion will remain open from June until October, during which time visitors are encouraged to enter and interact, making use of the multi-purpose social space and café.

Last year’s Serpentine Pavilion, for which AECOM provided engineering and technical services, was one of the most popular and talked about in the 14-year history of this high-profile architectural programme. The cloud-like structure, designed by Japanese architect, Sou Fujimoto, was visited by almost 200,000 people over four months in 2013.