Get to Know the Architect of the 2014 Serpentine Pavilion, Smiljan Radic

Matt Shaw Matt Shaw

The 2014 edition of the Serpentine Pavilion has opened, leaving visitors perplexed by its orb-like, cocoonesque mass hovering on a set of boulders in Kensington Gardens, London. It was designed by Chilean architect Smiljan Radic, a relatively unknown architect by Serpentine standards.

Radic is best known for his houses in the Chilean countryside, Neomodernist creations that have helped lead the way for South American residential architecture with their clean lines and material ingenuity. He has recently started to move on to larger projects, such as a new landmark for Santiago and the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art.

Smiljan Radic. © Hisao Suzuki

The designs, while not immediately traceable as precursors to the Serpentine, show flashes of the attitudes which brought about the odd creation in London. Rocks have been used as “supports” in the past, their rough masses exposed, while the roundness of the new pavilion harkens back to one of Radic’s earliest projects, a small spherical white mass.

Serpentine Pavilion 2014

The tactile, strongly ephemeral quality of the orb is rooted in the rich materials that have been both found and created by Radic. Odd, bulbous forms intersected with angular windows have also been found in some of his previous work.

Here’s a look back at the career of the architect who designed the Serpentine Pavilion, described by Olly Wainwright as “the weirdest ever.”

Image via El Croquis

Extension To Charcoal Burner’s House And Public Space, Culiprán, Región Metropolitana, Chile, 1998

Radic’s earliest work served as a preview of what was to come, with small-scale, tactile surfaces.

© Cristobal Palma

Copper House 2, Talca, Chile, 2004

This house experiments with the use of copper on its outer skin.

Image via El Croquis

Pite House, Papudo, Fifth Region, Chile, 2005

Understated and minimal, this house is a classic of Chilean Neomodernism and hangs off of a cliff, overlooking the sea.

Image via El Croquis.

CHILEAN HOUSE 1 & 2, Rancagua, Chile, 2006

The Chilean Houses show the influence of Modernism and its unique adaptation, using out-of-scale elements and tactile surfaces that reflect the surroundings.

© Nico Saieh

Mestizo Restaurant, Santiago, Chile, 2007

Imagery was appropriated from a number of other locations for this restaurant, to mimic follies of other cultures.

Image via El Croquis

FM MM Houses, Santiago, Chile, 2007

A fairly straightforward Modernist house, the upper floors are made of glass while the lower level opens up to the outside.

Image via El Croquis

House for the Poem of the Right Angle, Vilches, Chile, 2012

This is one of the more challenging forms from Radic, a foreshadowing of the odd orb of the Serpentine.

© Yuri Palmin

BUS:STOP, Krumbach, Austria, 2014

The city of Krumbach commissioned Radic to make this bus stop, one of seven by famous architects including Wang Shu and Sou Fujimoto.

© Nico Saieh

Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, Santiago, Chile, 2014

Santiago, Chile’s Museum of Pre-Columbian Art is an underground addition to the 200-year-old building.

Landmark for Santiago, 2017 (projected)

This landmark is an iconic structure for Cristobal Hill, in central Santiago, Chile. The tower ties together all of the existing antennae into a strong statement for the city.