Seeing red for summer
The scarlet surprise of summer 2010 is architect Jean Nouvel’s bespoke pavilion in London’s Hyde Park. Tenth in a series of special commissions, his Red Sun Pavilion is meant to function as a summer wing of the Gallery. It also offers a perfect chill-out zone and rest stop for the weary traveller.
The bright red pavilion is an unqualified success. Open from late July until October, best visited late in the day when it is often deserted. Despite problems in the bar-café (Pimm’s in a can!) that would make its designer wince, it rapidly became London’s best summer rendezvous.
Calling himself a “contextual architect”, Nouvel says the work resulted form his promenades in English parks and gardens. Everyone, he says, seems to be “so at home” in them, he wanted only to add spice to the ambiance. The photo he included is one Jean Baudrillard took in the Luxembourg Gardens.
Why red? It is the “colour of love, of summer and, for me,” says Nouvel, “the colour of a lost of emotions”. Another inspiration: the prevalence of scarlet Londoners see every day, from the stop lights at the end of each Tube platform to their ubiquitous buses, letter boxes and phone booths.
Already world-famous for many masterpieces around the world (in Paris, especially, the Institut du Monde Arabe, the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain and the Musée de Quai Branly), the Red Pavilion has brought his name to many delighted lips in London. As Nouvel wanted, it has become a “box of sensations”.