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Junya Ishigami Serpentine Pavilion snapped up by tech spa firm

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This year’s Serpentine Pavilion, designed by Japanese architect Junya Ishigami, has been bought by technology firm and spa operator Therme Group

It’s the second year running the company has bought the Serpentine Pavilion. Last October it bought Mexican architect Frida Escobedo’s 2018 Serpentine Pavilion for an undisclosed sum. 

Therme Group plans to exhibit Ishigami’s structure to the public at its resorts around the world.

Ishigami’s pavilion features a sloping roof loaded with 61 tonnes of Cumbrian held up by dozens of narrow poles.

’I wanted to create something like a stone hill,’ Ishigami said when the pavilion launched earlier this year. ‘But I also wanted the hill-like shape to invoke people’s imagination. So it’s also something like a black bird, with the stones as feathers and the roof like wings.’

From afar, the roof looked ’like a soft grey cloud in the surrounding park,’ wrote the AJ’s Rob Wilson, before concluding: ’This feels like the most successful and grounded pavilion since that of Peter Zumthor’s dark shed in 2011.’

The acquisition by the Therme Group was announced at the Serpentine Galleries’ Frieze breakfast, where Hans Ulrich Obrist, artistic director of Serpentine Galleries, praised the architect’s ’free space’ philosophy, which sought harmony between man-made structures and those in nature.

’His gravity-defying “slate roof” has welcomed thousands of visitors to the park this summer to enjoy both the space itself and the many live and experimental performances that are programmed especially for the space as part of our annual Cos x Serpentine Park Nights series. It is exciting to imagine its future life in a new environment,’ Obrist said.

The Therme Group said it shared Ishigami’s philosophy of a union between man and nature. ‘It has become incredibly important to merge nature and human architecture to overcome the environmental challenges our civilization is currently facing,’ said Mikolaj Sekutowicz, vice-president of Therme Group.

’As a company, we are actively searching for solutions to challenges in architectural design and city planning through art. Ishigami’s design for this year’s Pavilion responds to these challenges, approaching solutions through the artistic and conceptual freedom provided by Serpentine Galleries.’

Therme Group is also a supporter of Lotus, Ishigami’s accompanying furniture design for the interior of the pavilion, which draws inspiration from the lotus flower.

The Serpentine Pavilion commission has previously gone to leading names including Bjarke Ingels Group, Herzog & de Meuron, Oscar Niemeyer, Zaha Hadid, and Smiljan Radic.

Ishigami’s appointment was overshadowed by accusations over unpaid interns working in his office, which Ishigami insists was based on a misunderstanding about university work placement students at the practice.

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