London's pond life

Philippa Stockley muses on this year's Serpentine architectural challenge
Serpentine pavilion
Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa's shimmering pavilion canopy stands on slender poles and is barely a building at all
Should a pilot take a recce over the Serpentine lawn this summer they will see, if they glance down at a play of flashing light, what looks like a large undulating pond tucked in among the trees around the gallery.

But this masterful piece of camouflage will in fact be the wavering aluminium top of the new pavilion designed by Japanese architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of Sanaa architects.

Under the shimmering aluminium will be space for a café, and events such as poetry readings.

Each year, the pavilion is designed by a practice that has not yet realised a UK building. This will be the ninth.

Previous illustrious incumbents include Toyo Ito, Rem Koolhaas, Daniel Libeskind and Oscar Niemeyer; so it is immediately apparent that winning this prestigious commission is no fast-track route to building anything else here any time soon.

Is this structure actually a building, though - or is it a freeform metal cutout on slender poles? A sort of Emperor’s new canopy? It doesn’t matter. Sanaa architects is well known for making permeable structures in which people, construction and nature have a fairly fluid relationship.

This Serpentine pavilion will not only run true to form but for the first time the name will also reflect the structure, hovering like a lovely welter of molten metal against the sky.

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