AECOM to Engineer 18th Annual Serpentine Pavilion

For the sixth year running, AECOM, in collaboration with David Glover, will deliver engineering and technical design services for the Serpentine Pavilion in London, UK. The Mexican architect Frida Escobedo, celebrated for dynamic projects that reactivate urban space, has been commissioned to design the Serpentine Pavilion 2018. AECOM will work closely with the architect, Gallery and contractor, Stage One, to develop the concept into a finely detailed construction, ready for the public to enjoy upon its opening in June.

Escobedo’s Pavilion will take the form of an enclosed courtyard, comprised of two rectangular volumes positioned at an angle. While the outer walls will be aligned with the Serpentine Gallery’s eastern façade, the axis of the internal courtyard will align directly to the north. Internal courtyards are a common feature of Mexican domestic architecture, while the Pavilion’s pivoted axis refers to the Prime Meridian, which was established in 1851 at Greenwich and became the global standard marker of time and geographical distance.

British-made materials will be used in the Pavilion’s construction, chosen for their dark colours and textured surfaces. A celosia – a traditional breeze wall common to Mexican architecture – will here be composed of a lattice of cement roof tiles that diffuse the view out into the park, transforming it into a vibrant blur of greens and blues. Two reflecting elements will emphasise the movement of light and shadow inside the Pavilion over the course of the day. The curved underside of the canopy will be clad with mirrored panels, and a triangular pool cast into the Pavilion floor will trace its boundary directly beneath the edge of the roof, along the north axis of the Meridian. As the sun moves across the sky, reflected and refracted by these features, visitors may feel a heightened awareness of time spent in play, improvisation and contemplation over the summer months.

Jon Leach, Director, Buildings + Places, AECOM, said: “The Serpentine Pavilion is always an exciting project to work on, and this year’s design will be no different. As engineers, the key to delivering a successful pavilion is to transform the architect’s vision into a functional space for people to enjoy. We look forward to our continued collaboration with Stage One and David Glover as part of the design and delivery process.”

Serpentine Galleries Artistic Director, Hans Ulrich Obrist and CEO, Yana Peel, said: “We are delighted to reveal the designs for Frida Escobedo’s Serpentine Pavilion – a living timepiece in the park, powered by light and the Prime Meridian line. In its beautiful harmony of Mexican and British influences, it promises to be a place of deep reflection and dynamic encounter. We hope visitors of all ages will create their own experiences in the Pavilion this summer as we continue in our aim of bringing the urgency of art and architecture to the widest audiences.”

Each year, the Serpentine Galleries commissions an international architect to design a temporary Pavilion for the gallery grounds. Last year, AECOM engineered the dramatic and colourful tree-like Pavilion by architect Francis Kéré and delivered a ‘radically simple’ place of community, where people could connect with each other and with nature.