Friday, 24 September 2010

Chiswick Pavilion - Caruso St John
August 2010

The new pavilion by Caruso St John is in the sort of place one dreams of getting a sward, a leisurely approach with stands of mature trees all around; above all the presence of the highly influential Chiswick House sets the mood for the whole park. One of serene Classicism.

I do think that the pavilion has risen to the occasion in many ways - in its choice of material, its positioning and the plan which contains a quasi ambulatory that forms arms to contain the external seating areas.

It is strictly contemporary yet striving to be classical...but there is to me something in the proportions of pillars to roof slab that doesn't quite sing in tune. There is also a long and totally boring 'back' wall against a hedge, which is due to the kitchen and toilet positions.

The best thing is the use of Shellybed Portland Stone, a particularly beautiful variety of the stone, as cladding for parts of the building and the use of whole slabs to make the pillars (see photos). It would have been great to use this more extensively instead of the rendered panels here and there...but I am assuming a budget constraint possibly. And to nitpick...there is already a detailing problem at the parapet where stone and concrete meet!

The interior is pleasant but oddly gloomy...maybe because the day was so bright outside.

I came away thinking about the Barcelona Pavilion...which to be fair did not have to house kitchens and WCs...but as an exercise in timeless and perfect contemporary classicism, is interesting as a comparison.



  1. Made me think of Asplund/Lewerentz's Woodland Cemetery (the Crematorium). C&St.J's Brick House was compared frequently to Leweretz's work, so maybe there's a connection. It also looks a bit like Chipperfield's Museum of Modern Literature but with less exaggerated proportions...

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