Junya Ishigami’s Serpentine Pavilion

Japanese Architect Junya Ishigami has been selected to design this year’s temporary Pavilion on the  Serpentine Gallery’s lawn in Kensington Gardens by a panel including David Adjaye and Richard Rogers, and led by the Serpentine Gallery’s director Hans Ulrich Obrist and former CEO Yana Peel.

Ishigami is the nineteenth architect to accept this invitation. This pioneering commission, which began in 2000 with Zaha Hadid, has presented the first UK structures by some of the biggest names in international architecture. In recent years it has grown into a highly-anticipated showcase for emerging talent, from Frida Escobedo of Mexico to Francis Kéré of Burkina Faso and Bjarke Ingels of Denmark, whose 2016 Pavilion was the most visited architectural and design exhibition in the world.

“I wanted to make a landscape,” says Junya Ishigami. “I want people to come inside and sit and look at the gardens outside and feel good, but at the same time I want people to look at the structure from outside as if it’s a new garden in this park.”

Ishigami’s design for the Pavilion plays with our perspectives of the built environment against the backdrop of a natural landscape, emphasising a natural and organic feel as though it had grown out of the lawn, resembling a hill made out of rocks. 

For Ishigami, the Pavilion is also a marriage of local and universal languages, over 60 tonnes of Cumbrian slate, and the common language of the roof. 

Sheets of slate are arranged in the manner of a rural stone wall over a steel grid to form the canopy. With three corners touching the grass, over 100 white columns raise the blanket of stone at its centre to create a cave-like space to shelter from the elements. 

“Old architectural methods use materials from the natural landscape in a very simple way, so there is something common between the local landscape and old buildings,” he says. “I also feel like there is something universal about a stone roof, you can find them in Japan, Asia, Europe. I wanted to focus on what is common.”


Junya Ishigami (b. 1974) worked as an architect at SANAA before founding the prize-winning Junya Ishigami + Associates in 2004. Winner of the Golden Lion award at the Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2010, he was the subject of a major and critically acclaimed solo exhibition at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in 2018 that is traveling to the Power Station of art in Shanghai later this year.

He is known for designs with dream-like qualities that incorporate the natural world, such as landscapes, forests and clouds, in an architectural practice that places humankind as part of nature.

The Pavillion remains open until October 2019
 Serpentine Gallery Kensington Gardens London W2 3XA
Nicky’s World June 2019