Experimental Japanese architect designs floating slate cloud for 2019 Serpentine pavilion

Japanese architect Junya Ishigami has been selected as designer of the annual temporary Serpentine pavilion in Kensington Gardens, which will remain in the park for three months this summer.

As the 19th architect of the London pavilion project, Ishigami’s ambitious design could be the strangest the gardens have ever seen. The 44-year-old architect remarked “my design for the pavilion plays with our perspectives of the built environment against the backdrop of a natural landscape”.

Ishigami promises to create an enormous grey cloud of Cumbrian slate that will seemingly hover above the Kensington lawns. In the designs, the rocky pavilion rises into the London skyline and Ishigami believes it will form “an enclosed cave-like space”.

Slender toothpick columns will hold up the 350 square feet metre structure, constructing a skeletal interior canopy that visitors can amble beneath.

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 rocks levitate, like a billowing piece of fabric”, explained Ishigami.

The design even takes into consideration the often rainy British summer weather. Not only will the pavilion provide shade from the sun, during wetter days the rain will cascade off the rough slate to create a waterfall effect along the edges. Francis Kéré created a similar waterfall attraction in his design for the pavilion in 2017.

Ishigami is renowned for his manipulation of weighty and robust materials. His previous projects include producing a floating 10-metre long table of wafer-thin steel, with no visible supports, and levitating a five-storey metal balloon in a Tokyo gallery.

Serpentine Galleries’ artistic director, Hans Ulrich Obrist and CEO Yana Peel, who selected Ishigami, revealed: “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”.

During its short lifetime, this captivating space is set to become one of London’s most contemplative, and Instagrammable, tourist locations.

The pavilion will open every day from 10am to 6pm from 20 June to 6 October 2019.


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