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London | Asif Khan’s Serpentine Summer House 2016

Place: London, Country: United Kingdom
Serpentine Galleries, London
Architect: Asif Khan, London
Client: Serpentine Galleries, London
Text by Riccardo Bianchini
all images courtesy of Serpentine Galleries

Asif Khan Serpentine Galleries Summer House London 2016 2

Serpentine Summer House 2016 designed by Asif Khan (10 June – 9 October) Photo © Iwan Baan

London | Asif Khan’s Serpentine Summer House 2016

Asif Khan (b. 1979) is one of the most interesting emerging architects in the UK; therefore, his proposal was among the most awaited among those commissioned by Serpentine Galleries to four, quite different, architects for their Summer House 2016 program.
And, as one would expect Khan approached the theme of the commission (to create a small building inspired by William Kent’s Queen Caroline’s Temple in Kensigton Gardens) in a thoroughly inventive way.

“Through sun path analysis I realized that Kent aligned the temple toward the direction of the rising sun on 1st March 1683, Queen Caroline’s birthday. This effect would have been amplified by the reflection of the newly created Serpentine lake”. (from Asif khan’s design statement)

Asif Khan Serpentine Galleries Summer House London 2016 1

Asif Khan Serpentine Galleries Summer House London 2016 model 2

Serpentine Summer House 2016 designed by Asif Khan; Architectural model © Asif Khan

Following this inspiration, Khan created a “conceptual replica” of Kent’s building: a tea house where three “rooms” (actually three ideal steps in a spatial sequence), are aligned to form a curvilinear structure, oriented so to establish a “dialogue” with the sun and its typical path across the summer sky.

The pavilion is made with rectangular timber staves, gently curved, rising from a gravel-covered ground. In the middle of the tea house a round table and a small metal roof define an intimate, relaxing space.

Asif Khan Serpentine Galleries Summer House London 2016 3

Asif Khan Serpentine Galleries Summer House London 2016 4

Serpentine Summer House 2016 designed by Asif Khan; Photos © Iwan Baan

Despite the building being essentially an open construction – without continuous walls and a complete roof – though a very simple set of carefully-designed elements, Khan was able to create the illusion of a fully enclosed space.
At the same time, due to its “porous” structure, the building (and the visitor inside it) is in a permanent visual and emotional dialogue with the Temple nearby, and with the surrounding landscape.

Asif Khan

Asif Khan; portrait courtesy Adriano Mauri / Design Indaba

Asif Khan Coca Cola Pavilion London 2012

Asif Khan: Coca-Cola Beatbox Pavilion, London, UK, 2012. Image © Hufton + Crow

Asif Khan Megafaces installation Sochi 2014

Asif Khan: MegaFaces pavilion at the Sochi Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. Image © Hufton + Crow


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