Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2013, designed by Sou Fujimoto.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2013, designed by Sou Fujimoto.

Credit: © Sou Fujimoto Architects; Image © 2013 Iwan Baan


Preparations are under way for this weekend’s opening of the 2013 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in London. Each year, these temporary pavilions from famous architects inhabit the front lawn of the Serpentine Gallery, itself located within Kensington Gardens beside the Serpentine Lake, which was created in 1730 by Queen Caroline, wife of King George II. This year’s pavilion, designed by Sou Fujimoto—the third Japanese architect invited to participate, after Toyo Ito, Hon. FAIA, in 2002, and Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA in 2009—features a cloudlike lattice composed of 20mm steel poles that produce a lightweight, semitransparent structure built using the Japanese technique of ‘bracketing’. Fujimoto’s concept attempts to blend with the undulating landscape of Kensington Gardens through its minimal profiles, and will house multipurpose social spaces and a small café within its 357-square-meter footprint.

“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,” Sou Fujimoto, the youngest architect (at age 41) to design the Serpentine, said in a release. “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 has been created, where the natural and the man-made merge; not solely architectural or solely natural, but a unique meeting of the two.”

Fujimoto’s is not the first pavilion to embrace its environment. Last year’s pavilion, designed by Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron with Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, was sunken into the earth and incorporated the foundations of several previous pavilions; it featured a reflecting pool on its roof that mirrored its surroundings. In 2011, Peter Zumthor’s effort focused on the concept of hortus conclusus—a contemplative room—with planted walkways and an open roof combining to form a garden within the gardens.

This year’s pavilion will be open from June 8 through October 20.

For more details and images of the 2013 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, visit ARCHITECT's Project Gallery.

The Guardian has released the following video of the 2013 Serpentine Pavilion: