Showing alongside Michelangelo Pistoletto’s The Mirror of Judgement at London’s Serpentine Gallery is the Gallery’s 11th pavilion, designed this year by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Peter Zumthor (Hortus Conclusus, ends 16 October). Just like Pistoletto’s site-specific installation, the pavilion uses altering perceptions of space to engage us with the pavilion.
Inside it is a tranquil haven for reflection and contemplation. Centered around an inner, hidden garden, a hortus conclusus designed by Piet Oudolf, the austere black box if punctured by doorways that lead you into darkness; four slender, symmetrical corridors, which in turn take you into the garden hidden inside.
It is this emphasis on discovered, hidden space that provides the conceptual backbone to the work. The design is restrained, the building offering a protective shield around the garden, a place of intimacy and seclusion. Inside the slanting roof opens up to the sky, a fragment of blue and some floating clouds appear isolated from the ground and horizon, from all outside commotion. ‘The hortus conclusus that I dream of is enclosed all around and open to the sky,’ says Zumthor. ‘Every time I imagine a garden in an architectural setting, it turns into a magical place’.
This pavilion emphasizes space; we walk into a compressed space – a dark corridor – to find ourselves in an open space. This contrast between compression and expansion complements the stark contrast between dark and light that accompanies these spaces, and with it the sense of being trapped and then free.
In this way it is an perfect complement to the indoor installation by Pistoletto, since both manipulate our reception of space. They guide their viewers through and into places of revelation and knowledge, as well as through both natural and artificial surroundings. They impose upon them a sense of self-reflection, offering a type of space that is contemplative as well as an escape into a more ideal society.
Follow the link to Bareface Magazine for the original article on Pistoletto and Zumthor at the Serpentine Gallery.
And as an extra treat head to A Daily Dose of Architecture to see their coverage of summer pavilions!