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Lilas installation showcased in Sotheby’s ‘Beyond Limits’ exhibition, Chatsworth House, UK

The Lilas installation consists of three tensile fabric structures arranged like parasols around the centre of an event space. Inspired by the natural geometry of flower petals and leaves, each section of Lilas widens from a slender base into a broad, cantilevered canopy more than five metres high. The three parasols overlap, interweaving but never touching, mediating between open and closed spaces and allowing air, light and sound to travel through narrow gaps in the pavilion. During the day, its canopy provides shade; at night it transforms into a source of light.

"It is a very beguiling structure, it draws you in, it is an extraordinary thing. This is certainly the most complex undertaking we have done at Chatsworth, it is also one of the most imposing and beautiful,” said Simon Stock, the Sotheby’s specialist curating the show. There are many ways to describe Lilas, said Stock, and it is probably best to let visitors decide. “Is it principally sculptural? Is it a piece of architecture ... do you see it as a building, in other words? Do you see it as something organic that has grown out of the ground? It is all of those things combined.”

Lilas was designed, fabricated and installed in less than three weeks for the Serpentine Gallery’s annual summer party as a temporary replacement for the 2007 summer pavilion that remained under construction.


“It was one of those little miracles,” explained Julia Peyton-Jones, the former Serpentine director. “It was uncomfortable to be in the position of not having a pavilion on time that year – [but] stuff happens and it is how you deal with it that is the major issue. As a result we had this gorgeous project that was unexpected and it was an absolute little gem… so typical in its simplicity and so relevant to her work."

The Serpentine has a long relationship with Zaha Hadid Architects whose first structure in London was the inaugural Serpentine Summer Pavilion, built to host the gallery’s 30th anniversary dinner in July 2000. Designed for just one night, the pavilion proved to be so popular it remained in place for two months as a venue for talks and events, initiating the gallery’s annual summer pavilion programme.

Zaha Hadid Architects completed the Serpentine Sackler Gallery in 2013, repurposing the derelict Magazine building and applying advanced tensile fabric technologies for the gallery’s restaurant. Constructed in 1805 in London’s Kensington Gardens as a gunpowder store during the Napoleonic Wars, the Magazine was transformed by Zaha Hadid Architects  into one of London’s most popular spaces for art, attracting artists and visitors from around the world to its exhibitions and events. The gallery’s restaurant, under a flowing canopy supported by sculptural columns crafted in steel, was described by the Sunday Times as “one of the most inspiringly beautiful dining rooms in London, in Europe, in the world.”

Patrik Schumacher will discuss the design of Lilas and his historic collaboration with Zaha Hadid in a conversation at Chatsworth with Farah Nayeri of the New York Times.

‘Beyond Limits’ at Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, UK   10 September - 30 October 2016

Sotheby's 'Beyond Limits'

Patrik Schumacher in conversation with Farah Nayeri

The Guardian

Architectural Digest

The Architect's Newspaper