Ishigami’s Serpentine Pavilion

Quaint and Controversial


Two words describe the Serpentine Gallery’s summer pavilion this year, built by the Japanese architect Junya Ishigami: picturesque and polemic. It is picturesque because, of all the Serpentine Pavilions raised in London’s Kensington Gardens to date, this is probably the one that best connects with England’s landscaping traditions, not only through its sinuous form and its single canopy roof of Cumbrian sandstone resembling a hill of rocks, but also through the effect produced by the stark contrast between the weighty presence of the slate roof and its short thin supports: a tribute to English picturesqueness which is but a fruit of the picturesqueness of the work of Ishigami himself. And polemic because the architect’s dismay at the placing of awkward screens inside, to guard against wind, coincided with the accusation that in the development of the project he took in interns without remunerating them.

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