LONDON – Promising Mexican architect Frida Escobedo successfully bridged on Monday the 8,000 kilometers separating the Aztec nation from the United Kingdom and installed a soothing piece of Mexico in the heart of London’s Kensington Gardens, near Hyde Park, for this year’s Serpentine Gallery Summer Pavilion.
Escobedo, 39, inspired herself in traditional domestic Mexican inside patios surrounded by wooden latticework for this unique architectural space, set inside the Serpentine Gallery’s 300 square meters, which since the summer of 2000 provides its premises to a world-class architect who has never worked in the UK.
Escobedo expressed her utter surprise when she knew she had been chosen to present her work in a pavilion which, after nearly two decades, has become a global reference for experimental architecture.
“I simply couldn’t believe it. When they confirmed my architectural studio had been chosen, my surprise became a challenge,” the architect said during a press conference.
Her top priority was to create something “fresh” but also “specific for Kensington Garden’s four-month residency” and adaptable enough for its, yet unknown, next destination.
To solve this apparent “contradiction,” Escobedo and her team inspired themselves on the 1851 Greenwich Prime Meridian (and its opposing anti-meridian), a world-standard in the outskirts of London, that divides the world into eastern and western hemispheres.
Escobedo also sought to integrate Mexico’s traditional buildings opting for its typical wooden latticework to create its installation’s walls but built in grey concrete enabling both daylight and the greenish reflections of the Park’s trees to filter-through inside, where a cafeteria has been installed.
The Pavilion’s roof is a dark curved mirror and part of the floor is occupied by a pond only 5 mm deep. Both seek to reflect the sunlight sifting through the latticework as the sun travels across the firmament “thus enabling the visitor to have a better grasp of the passage of time,” Escobedo explained.
In the past 18 years, architects of the stature of Anglo-Iraqi Zaha Hadid (2000), Japan’s Toyo Ito (2002), Portugal’s Alvaro Siza and Eduardo Soto de Moura (2005), US’ Frank Gehry (2008), or Brazil’s Oscar Niemeyer (2003) the only other Iberoamerican architect predating Escobedo’s Serpentine Gallery residency.
This talented Mexican is also the youngest architect ever commissioned to present her work at the Serpentine Gallery which can be admired from June 15 until Oct. 7, 2018.