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Junya Ishigami designs the 2019 Serpentine Pavilion

Famed Japanese designer, Junya Ishigami creates a nature-inspired canopy for the Serpentine Pavilion in London, following other greats like Zaha Hadid and Bjarke Ingels.

by Pragnya Rao Jun 27, 2019

We have always looked forward to the sometimes whacky, sometimes thoughtful, and sometimes moving installations at the Serpentine Pavilion in London. This pioneering commission, which began in 2000 with Zaha Hadid, has presented structures by some of the biggest names in international architecture. In the recent years it has grown into a highly-anticipated showcase for emerging talent, from Frida Escobedo of Mexico to Francis Kéré of Burkina Faso and Bjarke Ingels of Denmark, whose 2016 Pavilion was the most visited architectural and design exhibition in the world.

And this year too, it’s no different. The 19th architect to accept the invitation to design a temporary pavilion on the Serpentine Gallery’s lawn in Kensington Gardens, Japanese architect Junya Ishigami is celebrated for his experimental structures that interpret traditional architectural conventions and reflect natural phenomena. Ishigami established his studio in 2004 after working as an architect for Pritzker Prize-winning studio SANAA, the studio that created a mirrored canopy for the 2009 edition of the Serpentine Pavilion.

As the canopy finished in slate rises from the ground, it gives a cake like effect thereby forcing the viewer to look inwards than outwards Image Credit: Junya Ishigami and Associates

This year, Ishigami’s design takes roofs, the most common architectural feature, as its point of departure and inspiration. It is reminiscent of roofing tiles seen around the world, bridging both architectural and cultural references through this single architectural feature. The roof of the Pavilion is made by arranging slates to create a canopy that alludes to nature. It appears to emerge from the ground of the surrounding park. Within, the interior of the Pavilion is an enclosed cave-like space, a refuge for contemplation. For Ishigami, the Pavilion articulates his ‘free space’ philosophy in which he seeks harmony between man-made structures and those that already exist in nature.

Junya Ishigami established his studio in 2004 after working as an architect for Pritzker Prize-winning studio, SANAA Image Credit: Junya Ishigami and Associates

Describing his concept, Ishigami says, “My design for the Pavilion plays with our 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, resembling a hill made out of rocks. 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.”

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About Author

Pragnya Rao

Pragnya Rao

Trained as an interior designer, Pragnya has spent 15 years in the design field. She was the Features Editor at ELLE DECOR India and Architectural Digest India, and more recently, the Editor at beautifulhomes.com. As a designer, she has styled shoots for leading brands and also been a part of India Design Symposium for five years.

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