London Design Week

This week I was fortunate enough to have a 4th year MEng trip down to London to gain “research and inspiration” for our latest design project. Walking around the design capital and exploring my first design week was a very insightful experience and definitely started off the academic year with a bang.

Throughout the four days I attended various instillations and exhibitions. There is simply too much information to include in just one blog post, so today I thought I’d share my opinion on one of the most popular installations of London Design week:

The Pavilion by Bjarke Ingels Group

The Pavilion erected in the Serpentine Square was the first and possibly the most breathtaking structure I’ve seen throughout design week.

Lay Light ; a derivative of fibreglass as strong as steel but only 1/5th the weight, panels were used to build 1,900 boxes joined together by steel “+” shaped connections. Panels of different lengths and thicknesses were used in construction to create a wave like structure extruding from each wall.

The overall form was very interesting and shows a great deal of experimentation with space. A central line of boxes rested on top of the structure and seemed to dissipate in numerous stepped distances to create a curved walkway through The Pavilion and waved interior/exterior walls. I was very impressed with the sense of space and overall scale of the structure from the interior. The boxes almost creeped closer together as you looked up, creating a distorted perception of the building form.

The floor of the interior was lined with hardwood flooring creating a great contrast in colour to the Lay Light. The space was used as a cafe with more boxes used as seating and tables. I liked that although it was a temporary structure, it had a secondary use other than just looking “pretty”. Although the cafe was a nice feature of use, it almost came across as an “afterthought" in the design process. The equipment used and umbrellas from the cafe area seemed to conflict with the overall effect of The Pavilion. I found the structure an elegant and clean design, but it felt a bit messy around this cafe area.

Overall I was very impressed by The Pavilion as a piece of engineering and artistic design. We were lucky enough to visit on a “mid summer” like day which really showed off the beauty of the exterior. But I can’t help asking myself how this structure looks in the typical British weather? I feel like the effect could be easily lost on a dull/rainy day and the boxes would provide very little shelter form any side winds. I feel like it was manufactured as an artistic piece to show off the engineering behind the Lay Light material. In this respect the overall design is very striking and effective. However my idea of great design should account for more than a piece of art and a coffee shop.

Stay tuned to The Blog for more London Design Week entries coming soon!