Japanese architect Junya Ishigami has been chosen to design the 2019 Serpentine Pavilion, the temporary structure that hosts the summer programming of the Serpentine Galleries in London’s Kensington Gardens annually. The pavilion has always been a place of experimentation; the first pavilion, built in 2000, was Anglo-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid’s first project on British soil. Appointment of an international architect who has never built anything in Great Britain is in fact a condition of the commission. Designing the Serpentine Pavilion has thus become a much sought-after opportunity for emerging architects. Junya Ishigami’s predecessors include Frida Escobedo - Mexico (2018), Diébédo Francis Kéré - Burkina Faso (2017) and Bjarke Ingels (BIG) – Denmark (2016).
The Serpentine Pavilion must meet a number of very specific criteria: limited size, use of ecological or recyclable materials, and a need for a temporary structure that will leave the site practically unaltered and can be easily dismantled at the end of the summer to be reused elsewhere or have its components recycled. These requirements make the little building an interesting opportunity to try out and experiment with new materials or unusual ways of using traditional materials, so it should not be surprising that the design of the nineteenth pavilion was awarded to Japanese architect Junya Ishigami, famous for his experimental poetic structures.
Landscape plays a key role in the work of Junya Ishigami, winner of a Golden Lion at the 12th Architecture Exhibition at Biennale di Venezia in 2010, curated by Kazuyo Sejima. This feature is clear in the travelling exhibition about his work: "Freeing Architecture", first presented in 2018 at FondationCartier pour l'art contemporain and scheduled to appear at the Power Station of Art in Shanghai the end of 2019.
As in the projects presented in the exhibition, in the Serpentine Pavilion project the architect started out with a basic shape of traditional architecture: a slate roof . This simple element familiar to people all over the world is isolated from its traditional context to become part of a natural landscape. The pavilion will have a single continuous roof composed of slate slabs that seem to emerge right out of the park around them. Slate roofs are found all over the world, but here the architect alters their traditional form, so that the stone surface is no longer "heavy" but becomes a lightweight "floating fabric" that looks as though the wind could blow it away. The pavilion’ interior will be a closed space like a cave, a refuge and place of contemplation.
Junya Ishigami’s Serpentine Pavilion will be flanked by the winning project in the open call for "Serpentine Augmented Architecture", an initiative recently launched by the Serpentine Galleries in partnership with Google Arts & Culture and architect Sir David Adjaye Adjaye, OBE. Professionals are invited to design a project with no physical constraints: complex and even unbuildable architectures, structures or constructions for the future of the city and urban space, to be created and experimented with through augmented reality.
Serpentine Pavilion 2019
Designed by Junya Ishigami + Associates
Technical Advisor: David Glover
Engineering and all technical services: AECOM
Creative Services: Stage One
Goldman Sachs is headline sponsor of the Serpentine Pavilion 2019
Dates: 20 June - 6 October 2019
Location: Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens London UK
Images courtesy of Serpentine Galleries
Render © Junya Ishigami + Associates
Photos:© Junya Ishigami + Associates
Portrait: © Tasuku Amada