Since 2000 the Serpentine Gallery has been putting up a pavilion on the lawn of Kensington Gardens for the warm months. This temporary structure has become the great summer benchmark of current architecture, biennials aside. At times drawing from constructive innovation, other times from formal experimentation, still others from plain frivolity, the architects invited to design the Serpentine Summer Pavilion tend to be reputed pros who are able to give the event a patina of prestige. But sometimes it is the institution that gives prestige to the architects. Cases in point have been Olafur Eliasson, Sou Fujimoto, and Francis Kéré, and now we have Frida Escobedo, the young Mexican tapped to build the 2018 pavilion.
Formed by two rectangular volumes, it alludes to both Mexican and British traditions. The Mexican allusion is in the breeze walls that nuance the light seeping through them and are reflected in the inner courtyard’s pool of water and the mirrored panels of the canopy’s curved underside. The local reference is in the material used for the lattices: cement tiles of dark concrete handmade in the United Kingdom.