Radical Japanese Architect Junya Ishigami to Create Slate Cloud for 2019 Serpentine Pavilion

His design will emerge from Kensington Gardens like a low-lying cloud, with its interior intended as ‘a refuge for contemplation’

Serpentine Pavilion 2019, design render, interior view. Courtesy: © Junya Ishigami + Associates

Serpentine Pavilion 2019, design render, interior view. Courtesy: © Junya Ishigami + Associates

The experimental Japanese architect, Junya Ishigami has been selected to design the 2019 Serpentine Pavilion, due to be opened 20 June in London’s Kensington Gardens.

Known for his structures that reinterpret traditional architectural designs and mimic natural phenomenon, Ishigami’s pavilion will comprise a single canopy slate roof that emerges from the surrounding parkland like a hillock or low-lying cloud. The pavilion’s interior will be enclosed, cave-like, and is intended as ‘a refuge for contemplation’. Ishigami’s design aims to find harmony between man-made and natural structures.

Speaking to Serpentine Galleries, the architect described his design: ‘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 44-year-old architect previously worked at SANAA, an award-winning architectural firm based in Tokyo, before he founded Junya Ishigami + Associates in 2004. His designs have since received critical acclaim: in 2010 he won the Golden Lion award at the Venice Biennale of Architecture, and last year he presented a critically-acclaimed solo exhibition at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporaine.

Serpentine Pavilion 2019, design render, exterior view. Courtesy: © Junya Ishigami + Associates

Serpentine Pavilion 2019, design render, exterior view. Courtesy: © Junya Ishigami + Associates

Known as one of Japan’s most experimental young architects, his radical designs have astonished visitors. In a Toyko gallery in 2007 he created a five-storey, floating metal balloon, while in 2011 at the Barbican, London he installed a frame so thin that visitors could only see it when invigilators stood behind it.

Ishigami will be the 19th architect to construct a temporary pavilion on the Serpentine lawn since its inaugural edition in 2000. A series of critically acclaimed architects have participated in the project, including Zaha Hadid, Frida Escobedo and Diébédo Francis Kéré.

In a statement released by Serpentine Galleries, Artistic Director Hans Ulrich Obrist and CEO Yana Peel said: ‘We are thrilled to be able to share the designs for Junya Ishigami’s Serpentine Pavilion – a structure 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.’

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