mahabis architecture // labyrinths and light play with selgascano
As this year’s Serpentine Pavilion installation comes to an end, we take a look at 'Selgascano', the work of José Selgas and Lucia Cano, the Spanish architect duo behind the colourful plastic creation.
The accolade of who will be designing the annual Serpentine Pavilion installation is one that is greatly valued in the fields of architecture and design. Every year since 2000, an international architect or design team are invited to create a unique temporary structure to sit on the lawn of the Serpentine Gallery for the public to explore for just three months.
The chosen architect must not have previously created a building in England and must complete the project within six months. Notable previous structures include Sou Fujimoto’s interactive white grid and SANAA’s sleek reflective aluminium canopy.
This year’s colourful structure, created from layers of colourful translucent plastic wrapped around a steel frame, was created by the Spanish duo. Each person’s experience of the pavilion was unique, dependent on where they entered and exited the structure, and the level of the light shining through the coloured plastic, casting patterns across the white floor.
photo: iwan baan
Graduates of Madrid’s Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura, Selgas and Cano formed their design studio in 1998, first attracting international acclaim by designing a transparent tunnel situated within woodland as their own office. Since then, they have developed a distinctive style, utilising plastic and acrylic materials, unusual colours and curved silhouettes to create a range of notable structures.
Factory Mérida, completed in 2011, is a centre for street sports such as skating and cycling, with colourful climbing walls incorporated into the design. Sheltered beneath a curved roof, this public playground makes a stark contrast against the grey concrete that surrounds it, inviting people towards it with vibrant colours and soft shapes.
A cultural and performing arts auditorium in Cartagena, in Spain, was the duo’s next project. Named El B, the building was designed to be flooded by natural light, with translucent staircases, panoramic windows, colourful walkways, and a subtly striped exterior. Again, acrylic was one of the predominant materials used throughout the interior, to allow the light to pass through the building.
Subsequent projects included creating a ‘hanging and moving garden’ for the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale, and building a translucent congress centre in Cacere that appears as if a white, light-emitting meteor has landed upon the ground.
Following the Serpentine Pavilion, SelgasCano worked on an informal office space in London, creating an orange plastic tunnel with transparent walls to be used as a relaxed meeting room, featuring a ‘flying table’. Designed to encourage interaction and openness, the individual office spaces are contained within acrylic bubbles, which allow others a view into the office yet absorbs sound, creating just the right amount of privacy.
Currently exhibiting within the sculpture garden at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Copenhagen, the duo have partnered with helloeverything to create a structure constructed from plastic sheets and colourful poles as part of the exhibit Africa: Architecture, Culture and Identity. After the exhibition has closed, their structure will be transported to Nairobi, where it will be utilised as an informal school.
We anticipate the next project from the talented design duo, as it will sure to be a creative space that utilises natural light, bold colour and interesting uses of acrylic.