AAJ Press
Architecture & Design, Commissions & Projects, Exhibitions & Events

Sou Fujimoto: Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2013, London

Serpentine-SFA-2773-365The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2013 in London’s Kensington Gardens, is a semi-transparent latticework structure designed by Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto to blend into the landscape and the classical façade of the gallery. Constructed of fine steel bars in a series of cubes and glass panels to create irregular platforms and a stepped auditorium around an open space, and spreading 360 degrees with a canopy incorporating transparent circular pvc discs, there is an element of vertigo induced when moving around the space. Steep drops, irregular vertical and horizontal access, the glass floors and spiky extremities of the steel create a playground element reminiscent of a potentially adventurous Peter Brook stage set in-the-round for As You Like It. Occupying circa 350 sq-metres, the open structure of 20 mm steel poles has an ephemeral appearance and experiments with immateriality and weightlessness. For it’s four-month installation, the pavilion is designed as a flexible, multi-purpose social and event space, with an interior café.


Sou Fujimoto – Statement

“For the 2013 Pavilion 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 Pavilion will be a delicate, three-dimensional structure, each unit of which will be composed of fine steel bars. It will form a semi-transparent, irregular ring, simultaneously protecting visitors from the elements while allowing them to remain part of the landscape. The overall footprint will be 350 square-metres and the Pavilion will have two entrances. A series of stepped terraces will provide seating areas that will allow the Pavilion to be used as a flexible, multi-purpose social space.

 The delicate quality of the structure, enhanced by its semi-transparency, will create a geometric, cloud-like form, as if it were mist rising from the undulations of the park. From certain vantage points, the Pavilion will appear to merge with the classical structure of the Serpentine Gallery, with visitors suspended in space.”  Sou Fujimoto

Sou Fujimoto is the leading light of an exciting generation of artists who are re-inventing our relationship with the built environment. Inspired by organic structures, such as the forest, the nest and the cave, Fujimoto’s signature buildings inhabit a space between nature and artificiality. Fujimoto has completed the majority of his buildings in Japan, with commissions ranging from the domestic, such as Final Wooden House, T House and House N, to the institutional, such as the Musashino Art Museum and Library at Musashino Art University. 

The Serpentine Gallery’s past pavilions have included designs by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei, 2012; Frank Gehry, 2008; Oscar Niemeyer (2003) and Zaha Hadid, who designed the inaugural structure in 2000. Sou Fujimoto is the thirteenth and, at 41, the youngest architect to design a temporary Summer structure for the gallery; and the third Japanese architect following Toyo Ito in 2002, and Kazuyo Sejima & Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA in 2009.

Sou fujimoto Serpentine 2013 2 concept sketch Fujimoto press page Sou fujimoto Serpentine 2013

Public Talk: Sou Fujimoto : Saturday 8 June 2013. 1-5pm

Sou Fujimoto discusses his design for the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2013 and his practice and the concepts driving his designs. The talk is the first of a series of public events taking place in the 2013 Pavilion over the summer.

Open to the public 8 June – 20 October 2013.

Serpentine Gallery
, Kensington Gardens, 
London W2 3XA

. T. 020 7402 6075

Images: Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2013
. Designed by Sou Fujimoto

 Images © 2013 Iwan Baan

4. Interior Indicative CGI
© Studio Cyrille Thomas for Sou Fujimoto Architects

5. Sou Fujimoto. Concept Sketch
. © Sou Fujimoto Architects

6. Exterior Indicative CGI
© Studio Cyrille Thomas for Sou Fujimoto Architects



About jeh

Jeremy Hunt is Director of the AAJ Press (Art & Architecture Journal / Press) – a writer and consultant on art and public space


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