A Clean Slate: Serpentine Pavilion 2019 byJunya Ishigami Opens in Kensington Gardens

19 Jun 2019 | Updated on: 27 Sep 2022 |By Dominic Jeffares

The popular architectural showcase at the Serpentine Gallery returns this year with a 'primitive and ancient' slate roof by Junya Ishigami

As early as February this year, we were told that Junya Ishigami was selected for the Serpentine Pavilion’s annual exhibition. The architect, whose works aim to eliminate the boundaries between nature and architecture, said of his commission, “I wanted to create the landscape inside the building…I tried to create this landscape that exists outside, inside the building itself.” Conceptual stuff. So conceptual in fact that Stage One, the fabricators who have built the pavilion every year for the past decade, said he was “the most conceptual architect we have ever worked with. It was a very strained process.”

The 19th architect to be chosen – rather fittingly for 2019- the Japanese describes his sweeping Cumbrian slate roof as a “hill made out of rocks.” The gravity-defying 77-ton slate tiles are held in place by 106 pin-ended columns arranged randomly underneath to give a feeling of weightlessness, the intended effect being that the pavilion should “appear to emerge from the ground of the surrounding park…as though it had grown out of the lawn.”

For the more conceptually-inclined, he urges the viewer to look at his pavilion the same way we may look at a cloud in the sky and see an animal or a face. For Ishigami, depending on what mood you catch him in, the pavilion looks like “a monstrous bird in flight, the countless layered stones like black feathers”. They say that no straight lines exist in nature – it would seem that Ishigami’s pavilion holds no straight answers either.

Junya Ishigami, Botanical Garden Art Biotop, Tochigi, Japan, 2018
Junya Ishigami, Park Groot Vijversburg Visitor Center, Tytsjerk, The Netherlands, 2012

21 Jun 2019 to 6 Oct 2019

Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, London, W2 3XA