Serpentine Pavilion 20 Jul — 19 Oct 2008 Free

This spectacular structure, designed and engineered in collaboration with Arup, was the first built project in England by legendary architect Frank Gehry.

Anchored by four massive steel columns, the 2008 Pavilion was composed of large timber planks and a complex network of overlapping glass planes that created a dramatic, multi-dimensional space.

Gehry and his team took inspiration for the Pavilion from a variety of sources, including the elaborate wooden catapults designed by Leonardo da Vinci, as well as the striped walls of summer beach huts. Part-amphitheatre, part-promenade, these seemingly random elements make a transformative place for reflection and relaxation by day, and discussion and performance by night.

The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion series, which entered its ninth year with Gehry’s structure, is the world’s first and most ambitious architectural programme of its kind, and is one of the most anticipated events in the international design calendar.

Gehry said: “The Pavilion is designed as a wooden timber structure that acts as an urban street running from the park to the existing gallery. Inside the Pavilion, glass canopies are hung from the wooden structure to protect the interior from wind and rain and provide for shade during sunny days. The Pavilion is much like an amphitheatre, designed to serve as a place for live events, music, performance, discussion and debate. As the visitor walks through the Pavilion, they have access to terraced seating on both sides of the urban street. In addition to the terraced seating, there are two elevated seating pods, which are accessed around the perimeter of the Pavilion. These pods serve as visual markers enclosing the street and can be used as stages, private viewing platforms and dining areas.”

Gehry collaborated for the first time with his son Samuel Gehry. Since 2001, Peter Rogers, Director of Stanhope, has donated his expertise to all aspects of the Serpentine Gallery Pavilions and he continues to play a major role. The Pavilion is a fully accessible public space in the Royal Park of Kensington Gardens, attracting up to 250,000 visitors every summer and is accompanied by an ambitious programme of public talks and events including Park Nights and the Manifesto Marathon.


Discover over 50 years of the Serpentine

From the architectural Pavilion and digital commissions to the ideas Marathons and research-led initiatives, explore our past projects and exhibitions.

View archive