2002 Serpentine Pavilion by Toyo Ito

What happens to temporary pavilions when the summer, fair, or exposition ends? Some are too pretty to tear down, like the Eiffel Tower, Sunsphere or the Palace of Fine Arts (designed by Bernard Maybeck for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exhibition in San Francisco). Other pavilions just to rot in place like forgotten pumpkins. Some pavilions develop the wanderlust, like Daniel Libeskind’s 2001 Serpentine Pavilion that moved to Ireland. And rumor has it that Charles Jencks bought the 2008 Serpentine Pavilion designed by Frank Gehry.

Toyo Ito’s beautiful Serpentine Pavilion ended up in the parking lot of an abandoned power station in South London. I learned this while visiting London in October of 2007 and seeing the Serpentine Pavilion designed by Olafur Eliasson and Snøhetta. At the time, I was with my friend Claire and we started to talk about the previous pavilions when she told me that she had seen Toyo Ito’s 2002 pavilion from the top deck of a two-level bus on her way to work.

Claire and I thought there would be zero chance of us getting to see the older pavilion up close since it was dark by the time we arrived at the security gate in front of the relocated pavilion. Luckily, the pavilion’s new purpose was to raise interest and pounds to do something with the Battersea Power Station behind it. That particular October night, the pavilion was hosting a film festival. So happily, Claire and I paid a few pounds and sat through films I’ve entirely forgotten so we could be in the barely heated pavilion four years after its summer was supposed to end.


P.S. Here are more photos I took of the 2007 and 2002 pavilions.

September 28, 2010