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Frida Escobedo, architect

Project - Serpentine Pavilion, London


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Mexican architect Frida Escobedo’s Serpentine Pavilion has launched in Kensington Gardens, London.

Escobedo’s courtyard-based design harnesses a “subtle interplay of light, water and geometry” and is inspired in part by the domestic architecture of Mexico, the Prime Meridian line at London’s Royal Observatory in Greenwich, and British materials and history. Born in 1979, Escobedo is the youngest architect to have participated in the Serpentine Pavilion programme.

Serpentine Galleries artistic director Hans Ulrich Obrist and CEO Yana Peel selected Escobedo, the 18th designer for the structure.

The architect’s prize-winning work in urban reactivation ranges from housing and community centres to hotels and galleries. In 2006, she founded her practice in Mexico City, with significant national projects including the Librería del Fondo Octavio Paz and an extension of La Tallera Siqueiros gallery in Cuernavaca.

Her designs have featured at the Venice Architecture Biennale (2012 and 2014) and the Lisbon Architecture Triennale (2013).

Escobedo has used a black steel frame, with stacks of cement roof tiles making up the walls of the structure and a dark concrete floor. These allow the visitor to focus on what she describes as the most important materials of the pavilion: “The reflections of the sky and trees, distorted by the curve of the canopy or the shifting surface of the pool, the dissolving perspective of the surrounding park through the celosia, and the unpredictable play of light and shadow throughout the pavilion”.

“My design for the Serpentine Pavilion 2018 is a meeting of material and historical inspirations inseparable from the city of London itself and an idea which has been central to our practice from the beginning: the expression of time in architecture through inventive use of everyday materials and simple forms,” she added.

“I hope visitors will find a space in which the passage of time feels a bit hazy — fun yet meditative, and hopefully engaging the senses in unexpected ways. On a more practical level, I envision it as a good space for conversation, for getting out of the sun, for splashing around in the water a little bit.”

The pavilion opened on 15 June 2018 and will close on 7 October 2018. Constructed in collaboration with AECOM, technical advisor David Glover and construction firm Stage One, who previously worked on Wolfgang Buttress’ Hive and Thomas Heatherwick’s 2012 Olympic cauldron. Goldman Sachs is the headline sponsor.

It was recently announced that the Serpentine Pavilion programme is being expanded to Beijing in 2018, after a major international agreement was struck between Chinese retail giant WF Central and the Serpentine Galleries. The inaugural pavilion has been designed by Chinese firm JIAKUN Architects, and is set to open in May on the lawns of The Green at WF Central – a 150,000sq m (1.6 million sq ft) hospitality hub in Wangfujing, Dongcheng District.

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CLAD people: Frida Escobedo
Frida Escobedo's 2018 Serpentine Pavilion opens to the public