Sou Fujimoto's Serpentine Gallery Pavilion opens in London

An architectural landscape that blends the natural and the artificial

by Malcolm Clark
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The Serpentine Gallery 2013 has opened to the public and will remain open until October 20th in Kensington Gardens, London. This year it has been designed by the Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto.

He is the thirteenth and the youngest architect (41 years old) to accept the invitation to design the temporary structure for the Serpentine Gallery, one of the most eagerly awaited events of London's cultural calendar. Past editions have seen the participation of architects like Herzog & De Meuron Architekten and Ai Weiwei (2012), Jean Nouvel (2010), Frank Owen Gehry (2008), Oscar Niemeyer(2003) and Zaha Hadid, who designed the inaugural structure in 2000.

Inspired by organic structures like the forest, the nest and the cave, Fujimoto's works “inhabit a space between nature and artifice”. They range from domestic nature like the Final Wooden House, NA House and House N, to the institutional, like the Musashino Art University Museum and Library.

The new London installation occupies about 350 square meters: a delicate and dense three-dimensional reticular structure composed of 20 mm diameter steel rods, with a light and semi-transparent appearance which will enable it to blend into the landscape.

For the 2013 Pavilion, I have proposed an architectural landscape” stated Fujimoto. “A transparent terrace that encourages people to interact with it and explore it in different ways. In the 'bucolic' context of Kensington Gardens, I imagine the vivid green of the vegetation woven together with a new constructed geometry, in which the natural and the artificial blend.”

The Pavilion has two entrances and a series of stepped terraces that provide seating to ensure that it can be used as a multi-purpose and flexible space.

The delicate quality of the structure, enriched by its semi-transparency, creates a cloud-shaped geometry, as if were mist rising from the natural undulations of the park. From certain points of view, the Pavilion seems to merge with the classic structure of the Serpentine Gallery and its visitors suspended in space.”

Fujimoto is the third Japanese architect to design the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion after Toyo Ito in 2002 and Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA in 2009.

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    References
    Serpentine Gallery 2013 79

    Serpentine Gallery 2013

    London / United Kingdom / 2013

    Final Wooden House 132

    Final Wooden House

    Kumamoto / Japan / 2008

    NA House 49

    NA House

    Tokyo / Japan / 2010

    House N 63

    House N

    Ōita / Japan / 2008

    Musashino Art University Museum and Library 42

    Musashino Art University Museum and Library

    Tokyo / Japan / 2010