Though Daniel Libeskind's much-discussed extension to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London - known as the Spiral, it resembles a box of children's toy bricks frozen in mid-tumble - has been indefinitely postponed, we will soon have the chance to experience a project by the Berlin-based wunderkind. From tomorrow, a temporary structure designed by Libeskind will stand on the lawn of the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park.
Entitled Eighteen Turns, it is described by a spokeswoman for the gallery as "origami in aluminium". The 35m, open-sided construction consists of a series of linked near-parallelograms, combined with more radically wonky box shapes. Viewed from ground level, the structure resembles a one-storey house of cards. From above, it looks like a scatter of arrowheads directed towards the gallery's 1934 neo-classical facade.
Libeskind describes Eighteen Turns as "a playful figure that weaves and stretches obliquely across space and this unique context". He adds that the brilliant reflections from the sheer metallic planes are intended to reveal "an entirely new perspective of the greenery of the park and the brick of the gallery". The sequence of tilty aluminium boxes will be used to house a cafe, and as the venue for poetry readings and a series of debates on urban design. Then, on 9 September, Eighteen Turns will vanish as suddenly as it arrived. "Though the structure will disappear with the onset of autumn," the architect muses, "it will leave a sharp after-image and the ineffable resonance of a unique space."
This opaque description is the quintessence of clarity compared to some of the pronouncements in The Space of Encounter (Thames & Hudson, pounds 22.95), a new collection of Libeskind's project proposals, lectures and writings. Take this example, from a text that accompanies "Micromegas", a set of exquisitely beautiful if devilishly complex conceptual drawings: "But through an enigmatic reversal, one discovers in this ascent (or escape?) through the `funnel' of an increasingly precise effort of projection, a regression toward the unique and primordial condition of metrics. The vectoral `going beyond' is at the same time a deepening spiral movement that exposes this transgression as a moment of concentric approach."
In one of the lectures reprinted in the book, Libeskind announces that "I will try to speak as clearly as I can", before continuing to expound the baffling opinion "that reality would have been indeterminate or indistinct, a kind of Heisenberg/Mondrian postulation that equilibrium is achievable within a context of indeterminacy..."
Not all the items in the book are quite so impenetrable. A piece called "endless space(s)" is merely a list of several hundred types of space. Here is a sequence …