The 2019 Serpentine Pavilion by Junya Ishigami.
Photo: Iwan Baan

See the 2019 Serpentine Pavilion by Architect Junya Ishigami

The architect’s slate-covered hill pays homage to the Japanese tradition of ‘borrowed scenery’

Junya Ishigami by Tasuko Amada. Photo: Junya Ishigami + Associates

An undulating cloud composed of shimmering slate slabs has taken over London’s Hyde Park for the 19th Serpentine Pavilion. It is the vision of Junya Ishigami, the Japanese architect known for conjuring imaginative structures that appear deceptively simple.

Overseen by the Serpentine Galleries, the annual commission is given to a prominent architect who has not yet completed a building in the United Kingdom. (Past participants include Zaha Hadid, Jean Nouvel, Francis Kéré, and last year’s Frida Escobedo.)

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For the project, Ishigami conceived a craggy, sloping triangular slate roof supported by 106 barely-there columns. The cavelike den spans 3,700 square feet and is split into sections via clear polycarbonate walls—not part of the initial plans—that were installed to ensure the furniture inside would not blow away.

The 2019 Serpentine Pavilion by Junya Ishigami. Photo: Iwan Baan

“I wanted to create a pavilion that felt primitive and ancient, something between building and landscape,” Ishigami told The Guardian. “Slate roofs are found all over the world, so anyone coming here will be able to identify with it as a basic, archetypal form.”

Using 61 tons of silvery slate sourced from the English region of Cumbria, Ishigami paid homage to the Japanese tradition of shakkei (“borrowed scenery”), in which landscape designers take cues from the surrounding environment. In this case, the architect found inspiration in the slate roof of the adjacent Serpentine Gallery building, originally completed in 1930 as a teahouse. Together, the pair of structures provide a fascinating juxtaposition between classical and organic architectural styles.

The 2019 Serpentine Pavilion by Junya Ishigami. Photo: Iwan Baan

After beginning his career at Pritzker Prize–winning studio SANAA, Ishigami founded his own practice in 2004. He has since completed a slew of cutting-edge projects, including transforming a Japanese meadow into a lyrical “water garden“ and creating a sinuous carbon-fiber installation at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennial, which won him the coveted Golden Lion award for best project.

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The Serpentine recently made headlines following the departure of longtime CEO Yana Peel, who stepped down after reports surfaced linking her to a controversial cyber-weapons company.

The 2019 Serpentine Pavilion by Junya Ishigami. Photo: Norbert Tukaj

The 2019 Serpentine Pavilion designed by Junya Ishigami is on view through October 6, 2019 in London’s Hyde Park. 

Cover: The 2019 Serpentine Pavilion by Junya Ishigami.
Photo: Iwan Baan


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