Google+ London Architecture Blog: Week 24 13 Feature #17 Serpentine Pavilion 2013

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Week 24 13 Feature #17 Serpentine Pavilion 2013

Serpentine Pavilion 2013
Architect: Sou Fujimoto
Date: Open 8th June - 20th October 2013
Location: Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, London

The Serpentine Pavilion 2013 is the 13th in the series of annual pavilions beside the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens. The pavilions are commissioned to architects from around the world who are yet to design a building in the UK. The current pavilion is designed by the Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto (born 1971), the youngest architect to receive the commission. 

Fujimoto was born in Hokkaido, Japan and after graduating from the University of Tokyo in 1994, he set up Sou Fujimoto Architects in 2000. A large proportion of the practice's work to date has been private houses. Some of his most notable include the Final Wooden House, Kumamoto (2005-08), N House, Oita (2008), and the House NA, Tokyo (2012). Other projects include the Children's Centre for Psychiatric Rehabilitation and  the Musashino Art University Library, Tokyo (2007-10). His work embraces the Japanese minimalist style of bold volumes coupled with open plan white interiors and timber details.

The pavilion is constructed from a welded steel lattice frame which twists, curves and cantilevers out to provide a cloud like structure. A series of openings take the user into and out of the central cafe space where seating is positioned around the perimeter and within the centre. From here the structure steps upwards where it is used for climbing, seating and for views across the gardens. At the top of the cloud 
concentrated above the main seating area are a series of overlapping discs which provide shelter from the rain.

The steel structure is fixed back into the concrete base surrounded by patches of grass blending the pavilion back into the gardens. Lighting is then sunk into the ground and positioned within the structure illuminating the pavilion against the backdrop of the Serpentine Gallery and the trees. The ends of the steel frame are left open, softening the impact of the geometry.

Fujimoto compared forming the pavilion to the clipping of a bonsai tree. Cutting and trimming sections out of the form to provide spaces which can be explored and allowing each user to find their own space to inhabit. At various positions around the pavilion glass panels provide opportunities for stepping, seating and climbing encouraging movement not only around but also within and on the structure itself. This concept of interior/ exterior, public and private continues his interpretation of architecture as not so much enclosure, but as structure to be inhabited and explored.

Fujimoto's interpretation raises interesting questions. Not only of spatial layout and hierarchy, but the manner in which a pavilion is to be used. It challenges the traditional notion of structure as shelter and as pure function. Or as an individual piece of art, constructed for the purpose of symbolism or representation. It suggests that a pavilion should be a pubic piece, not only in view, but through use and occupation. 

Click here for construction photos of the project.

The pavilion is funded by the Arts Council England, Lottery Funding, City of Westminster and the Royal Parks.

For a list of previous pavilions please see the official Serpentine Gallery website

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