Last night the Architectural Association school officially launched their summer pavilion in Bedford Square.
Designed by level 2 students at the school, "Driftwood" is built from a plywood spruce structure provided by a Finnish timber merchant, with the cladding consisting of 28 layers of 4mm thick plywood. The flowing, heavily computer-aided design, which the designers say is inspired by Britain's relationship with the ocean, also takes a lot from the conceptual work of AA alum Zaha Hadid.
The school describes it as "neither art nor architecture, science nor ecological adventure, but a sculptural installation and prototype that defies classification". All very well, but why have they gone and labelled it a pavilion? Our trusty Oxford Dictionary describes a pavilion as "a summer house or other decorative shelter in a park or large garden". You won't be getting much shelter under Driftwoods open form, nor is it really a place to relax and unwind — it offers nothing in the way of seating.
As a piece of art, Driftwood has some aesthetic merit. That the cream of our graduating architects designed and built an ephemeral sculpture that fails to engage in the actual practice of architecture should, however, be a cause for concern, and instead of making a contribution to the built environment, Driftwood will probably end up a trinket in some collector's garden — if all that wood doesn't begin to rot in the British damp before.