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The 2021 Serpentine Pavilion

Each year, the Serpentine Galleries in London commission a leading architect to design a new temporary summer pavilion in Kensington Gardens. The installation usually runs from June to October. Sometimes it then travels around the world, as was the case with Unzipped Toronto (Bjarke Ingels).

Now in its 20th year, the Serpentine Pavilion is a tradition that started in 2000 with a building by architect Zaha Hadid. (There was no pavilion last summer because of COVID.) And as I understand it, the commission is usually awarded to an architect who has not yet completed a building in England.

This year’s pavilion will open to the public on June 11. Designed by Sumayya Vally of Counterspace, the pavilion is intended to be a “puzzle of many different [historic] elements.” See video above. Vally also happens to be the youngest ever architect to be commissioned by the Serpentine Gallery.

Architecture tends to take a long time. The Serpentine Pavilion happens much faster and happens every year (when there isn’t a pandemic). This strikes me as a very good thing for the world of architecture. I think we should do something similar — but of course better — here in Toronto.


  1. Judith Martin

    She’s obviously a very interesting young architect with a lot of worthwhile concerns, but unfortunately they don’t seem to include thinking about the environmental impact of an enormous amount of concrete. It’s not even clear how the structure can be moved. Maybe include that in the brief for the Toronto competition…


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