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“The most important colour here is white,” says Jose Selgas, the Spanish architect of this year’s Serpentine pavilion, standing inside the psychedelic cocoon he has built with his partner Lucia Cano, which now shimmers in Kensington Gardens. He’s dressed in green trousers, a blue blazer and red and yellow high-top boots; she’s clutching a neon orange handbag, which could have been ripped straight from the walls that wrap around us in a network of colourful caves. “The white ground is the canvas on which our colours can dance,” he adds, as a caretaker mops the white painted concrete floor moments before the opening. “When the sun comes out, that is.”
The west London skies may be leaden today, but Selgas Cano’s iridescent poly-tunnels still seem to radiate with the warm glow of Spanish sunshine. Formed from layers of ETFE plastic (the kind used for the Eden Project domes) stretched over an undulating cage of steel ribs, the structure wriggles its way across the lawn, bulging outwards in four contorted tentacles. In places, it looks like a chrysalis has been torn open then bandaged with plastic webbing, as if patching up the holes where the creature squirmed its way out. Elsewhere, the tunnels stretch out into gaping orifices, supercharged wormholes ready to suck you into a parallel dimension. Step inside and it feels like exploring the intestines of a slippery deep-sea creature, with stretchy membrane walls giving off an opalescent glimmer. […]