The Japanese architecture practice SANAA designed the 2009 Serpentine pavilion – an aluminium structure, reflecting the surrounding trees and surfaces, supported by a set of slender space defining columns. I think it is a very elegant and nice pavilion.
A couple of days ago, the official opening of Foster+Partner’s redevelopment project of Marseille’s World Heritage-listed harbour took place, including this event pavilion.
It consists of a sheet made of highly polished stainless steel, measuring 46×22 metres in size which is supported by “slender” (everything is relative) columns. Being a massive structure serving other purposes that the SAANA pavilion, I think that it lacks the elegance of the former, mainly because the thick columns supporting the steel sheet are not conveying a sense of lightness, but rather anchoring the sheet to the ground. On the other hand, it is a sensitive approach applied to a sensitive area, and I am glad Frank Gehry didn’t get the chance to dump a bunch of scrap metal onto the harbour.