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Serpentine Pavilion 2019: Japanese architect Junya Ishigami chosen


Japanese architect Junya Ishigami has been picked to design this year’s Serpentine Pavilion, and is planning a heavy slate-like roof which will appear to levitate over the surrounding park

The experimental 44-year-old designer has become the 19th architect in the Serpentine Gallery’s annual pavilion programme, whereby designers are given the opportunity to build their first structure in the UK.

Previous winners of the commission to design the temporary structure in London’s Kensington Gardens include Zaha Hadid (2000), Toyo Ito (2002), Frank Gehry (2008) and Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA (2009).

Ishigami, who won the Golden Lion award at the Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2010, worked with SANAA until 2004 when he set up his own practice Junya Ishigami + Associates.

According to the gallery, the Tokyo-based architect is known for designs with ‘dream-like qualities that incorporate the natural world, such as landscapes, forests and clouds, in an architectural practice that places humankind as part of nature’.

Ishigami said his pavilion designs would play with the ‘perspectives of the built environment against the backdrop of a natural landscape, emphasising a natural and organic feel as though it had grown out of the lawn, and resembling a hill made out of rocks.

He added: ’This is an attempt to supplement traditional architecture with modern methodologies and concepts, to create in this place an expanse of scenery like never seen before.

‘Possessing the weighty presence of slate roofs seen around the world, and simultaneously appearing so light it could blow away in the breeze, the cluster of scattered rock levitates, like a billowing piece of fabric.’ 

The architect was chosen by Serpentine Galleries artistic director Hans Ulrich Obrist and chief executive Yana Peel with input from architects David Adjaye and Richard Rogers and technical adviser David Glover.

Ulrich Obrist and Peel said the proposed structure was ‘informed by the natural world and situated in the middle of one of London’s greenest spaces: Kensington Gardens.

‘The pavilion and its accompanying programme will be central to the Serpentine’s general ecology strand – an ongoing investigation into complex systems, interspecies landscapes and the environment.

‘Alongside this year’s pavilion, we are thrilled to simultaneously be launching Serpentine Augmented Architecture, with Google Arts and Culture, where a winning submission for an unrealised project will be on display.’

Project data

Designer Junya Ishigami + Associates
Technical adviser David Glover
Engineering and all technical services AECOM
Creative services Stage One
Sponsor Goldman Sachs
Opens 20 June 2019

Junya Ishigami - biography

He founded his prize-winning architectural firm, Junya Ishigami + Associates in 2004. Projects have ranged from the Kanagawa Institute of Technology’s KAIT Workshop in 2007, a kindergarten with cloud-shaped walls in Atsugi, also a presentation at the Venice Architecture Biennale which won the Golden Lion in 2010, and last year an exhibition, Freeing Architecture, at the Fondation Cartier in Paris.

The studio is currently working on a university multipurpose plaza, Chapel of Valley, a worship space to be built in Rizhao, China, the redevelopment of the Russian Polytechnic Museum in Moscow, the Park Groot Vijversburg Project in the Netherlands, and residential projects in Dali, China.
In 2014, Ishigami was appointed as the Kenzo Tange Design Critic at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
He has also taught internationally, currently at Columbia University.

800px kait workshop junya ishigami internal view

KAIT Workshop by Junya Ishigami

Source: Epiq

KAIT Workshop by Junya Ishigami

The Serpentine Pavilion history

  • 2019 Junya Ishigami
  • 2018 Frida Escobedo
  • 2017 Diébédo Francis Kéré
  • 2016 BIG - Bjarke Ingels
  • 2015 SelgasCano
  • 2014 Smiljan Radic
  • 2013 Sou Fujimoto
  • 2012 Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei
  • 2011 Peter Zumthor
  • 2010 Jean Nouvel
  • 2009 Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, SANAA
  • 2008 Frank Gehry
  • 2007 Olafur Eliasson and Kjetil Thorsen
  • 2006 Rem Koolhaas and Cecil Balmond with Arup
  • 2005 Álvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura with Cecil Balmond, Arup
  • 2004 MVRDV with Arup (un-realised)
  • 2003 Oscar Niemeyer
  • 2002 Toyo Ito and Cecil Balmond with Arup
  • 2001 Daniel Libeskind with Arup
  • 2000 Zaha Hadid

Readers' comments (3)

  • SANAA with some slate on top

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  • Anyone suffering from depression keep out.

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  • It should be wonderful to see this marvellous visionary’s work in the UK. He gives architecture a poetic purpose once more, and escapes the bounds of mundanity and stale commercialism. I am looking forward to it...well done to the Serpentine.

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