On June 20 the new Serpentine Pavilionwas unveiled, a temporary structure located - in line with tradition - inside London’s Kensington Gardens in front of the Serpentine Gallery, which will host summer events until October 6, 2019. Each year, the design of the temporary pavilion is entrusted to a different architect. International fame is not enough to land the project, as the choice of a designer is in fact subject to an important prerequisite: the artist must not have completed any other works on British territory. A practical demonstration of how fundamental contamination and contact with new and different experiences is at the artistic level and beyond. In 2019, the prestigious project was entrusted to architect Junya Ishigami. The Japanese architect worked for the Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa’s SANAA studio, before opening his own studio, “Junya Ishigami + Associates”, in 2004. In 2010 Junya Ishigami received the Golden Lion at the Venice Architecture Biennale and in 2018 an important exhibition was dedicated to him at the Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain in Paris.
Junya Ishigami is the second youngest architect in the history of the Serpentine Pavilion - the youngest in fact was Mexican architect Frida Escobedo author of the temporary pavilion of the 2018 edition.
A landscape that lives inside and outside the building itself: this is the very concept of the project created by architect Junya Ishigami for the Serpentine Pavilion.
The natural context, the environment in which the building is immersed - these elements always form an integral part of Junya Ishigami’s projects. Some of his most famous works in fact present examples of this approach: the artificial lake created in Rizhao in China and the relocation of more than three hundred trees in the Tochigi Forest in Japan. Moreover, all the Japanese architect’s works - even the most simple and poetic ones - hide genuine technical challenges and reflections on the role of man in architecture. The architect is in fact famous for his experimental structures which interpret the construction methods typical of traditional architecture and reflect natural phenomena. For the Serpentine Pavilion, Junya Ishigami used slate as the main construction material, while the design was inspired by the architectural element par excellence: the roof. The roof is a structure that satisfies the primary need that man seeks in architecture: shelter, protection from natural phenomena and their sometimes negative effects. This, accompanied by a second consideration: roofs - and in particular slate roofs - are common in all parts of the world. Starting from these reflections, the architect has designed a structure that emerges directly from the grounds of the garden in front of the Serpentine Gallery, like a hill of rocks from a field. The structure crops up from the natural morphology of the land to rise up on slender pillars, becoming a single large canopy roof made up of slate slabs. Junya Ishigami seeks harmony between the structures created by man and those offered by nature , with the interior of the Pavilion in fact evoking a natural cave, a refuge for contemplation. At the same time, the architect plays with the onlooker’s perceptions: that which up close dominates with its stone roof materiality, from afar and as a whole seems like a light, floating fabric, ready to fly away at the slightest sign of a breeze.
Date: June 21 - October 6, 2019
Architect: Junya Ishigami + Associates
Location: Serpentine Gallery, London, UK
Photography © 2019 Iwan Baan, John Offenbach, Norbert Tukaj, Taran Wilkhu