It's a tradition: each summer for the past thirteen years, London's Serpentine Gallery commissions a different architect to design a pavilion on the adjacent park lands. It serves as an inspirational place to hang out, hear lectures and have a drink.
This year's is designed by the Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto. He is the thirteenth and, at 42, the youngest architect to rise to the challenge. The architect describes it as being like a cloud. It is ethereal.
The delicate latticed structure shimmers in the sunlight. It is a three-dimensional grid, made out of steel poles that have been arranged in 40cm and 80 cm. cubes. It is transparent; you can see through it on all sides.
The architect's work is found mainly in Japan. He is inspired by organic structures, such as the forest, the nest and the cave and given its location in the midst of Kensington Gardens, there is something of the nest in this project.
The structure occupies 350 square metres of lawn in front of the Gallery. It is conceived as a flexible space for use as a cafe, lecture room and programming space.
Interlocking discs of transparent polycarbonate are hung amongst the poles to give shelter from the rain...whether they will really work remains to be seen.
A series of stepped terraces will provide seating areas that will allow the Pavilion to be used as a flexible, multi-purpose social space.
Horizontal glass steps let you become part of the architecture and serve as perches as well as an entry into the structure.
The architect explains:
I propose an architectural landscape: a transparent terrain that encourages people to interact with and explore the site in diverse ways. Within the pastoral context of Kensington Gardens, I envisage the vivid greenery of the surrounding plant life woven together with a constructed geometry. A new form of environment will be created, where the natural and the man-made merge; not solely architectural nor solely natural, but a unique meeting of the two.
The structure is temporary and in the autumn it is dismantled and sold.
Fujimoto is on a roll; he has just won the
fifth Marcus Prize, an architectural prize offered worldwide to recognize architects ‘on a trajectory to greatness.’ This $100,000 award, supported by the Marcus Corporation Foundation and administered by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning, includes a cash prize to the recipient and supports a design studio at the school that will be collaboratively led by Fujimoto. He was selected from a pool of international nominees, all who were required to demonstrate at least ten years of proven, exceptional practice.