Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Friday 15 June 2012

After days of near stir-craziness from watching the rain and finally confronting the unpruned accumulation of memory-hogging clutter on my computer, the opportunity of one sunny day had to be grasped.

So it was out with the bike for a ride through town and through Hyde Park (the rose garden looking a little battered from the weather) to see this year's Serpentine Pavilion, noting en route just how far away one can see London's newest landmarks.

Last year's pavilion was like a quiet monastic cloister, hushed, peaceful and isolated from everything but the sky. This year's on the other hand is shielded from the sky by a roof that is a pool of shallow water, but otherwise open all round, and inviting people in. Where last year's enclosed, this year's exposes, since it's been dug out down to the level of previous pavilions' foundations. What look like a random series of levels making a range of sociable spaces for people to sit actually mark the shapes of its predecessors.

The whole thing is surfaced in cork, which the architects' art-speak description praises for its "haptic and olfactory qualities"; I think they mean people like the touch and smell. Certainly it feels warm, comfortable and safe for children to tumble against, and there were plenty of people intrigued by it and taking advantage of the space to eat their lunch, to chat or just to read and ponder.

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