Photos and Video - The Serpentine Pavilion 2015 by SelgasCano

For the last three years now, I've been commissioned by The Serpentine Gallery to document the construction of their annual pavilion. The construction is a fascinating phase to witness, to see how each architect approaches the site and to see how Stage One, the contractors who have to build these structures, flex and bend to each design. Here's a series of images, plus a video, of the whole process - from marking out to celebrating with champagne in the sunshine...

So much credit must go to Stage One for their work on the pavilions. In would be a whole lot easier to build Bovis homes on the green belt, but they've made a name for themselves for being the people to go to to build these experimental structures with tight deadlines and I can say from experience that they remain professional and (almost...) always cheerful in the face of it all.

Photographing the completed structures on press day poses it's own challenges. I'm used to being the only photographer on site, working slowly and calmly to document the space, but on press day it's a scrum. A constant Mexican stand-off as photographers vie for the best position or wilfully ignore the fact they've just stood right in the centre of another photographers frame. One day a year is enough of that for me.

By midday the press photographers have disappeared to find some shade to process and submit their images and a few photographers with the luxury of a looser deadline are left. It all becomes a much politer affair. This year it was Iwan Baan, Roland Halbe, Sarah Lee, Jack Latham (my assistant) and me milling around - not bad company to be in. Roland, Sarah, Jack and I helped each other out by 'modelling' for each other in the absence of members of the public. Big shout out to Jack who grabbed a mop and helped the cleaners get the floor cleaned for us...

I'm not going to get too much into the debate on how this year's pavilion ranks alongside the previous 14 years, but I will say this - the public will bloody love it. Kids will run around the tunnels (and no doubt attempt to weave between the ribbons, even if they're not supposed to) and it'll be all over Instagram this Summer. People from all over the world will come to visit it. As it is every year, there's been a host of armchair commenters on the blogs ready to denounce the pavilion and, bizarrely, claim that the photographs Iwan Baan and I have taken of it have been photoshopped to make it look 'successful' (I can't speak for Iwan, but I didn't and I'd bet my house he didn't either). The general rule of common sense applies here - don't read the bottom half of the internet.

For me, I'm torn between my architectural training and my career as a photographer. Architecturally speaking, questions about it's durability to last an entire British Summer are fair enough. But, it's also fantastic to see something so bright, colourful and downright fun after a run of four beautifully sombre pavilions. The desire to experiment and (literally) stretch materials to their limits is something I find very exciting too. Photographically speaking, it's a gift when the sun shines - all that colour seeping through the double skins, the psychedelic 3M plastic turning everyone's white shirts into global hypercolour t-shirts. Lets just hope for a sunny Summer!

Go and see it and Instagram away...

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