Sou Fujimoto designs
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2013


News: Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto has been named as the designer of this year's Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, which will be a cloud-like structure made from a lattice of steel poles.

The semi-transparent pavilion will occupy 350 square-metres of lawn outside the London gallery. Two entrances will lead inside the structure, where staggered terraces will provide seating for a central cafe.

Sou Fujimoto to design Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2013

Sou Fujimoto describes his design as "an architectural landscape" where "the vivid greenery of the surrounding plant life [is] woven together with a constructed geometry".

"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," said Fujimoto. "From certain vantage points, the pavilion will appear to merge with the classical structure of the Serpentine Gallery, with visitors suspended in space."

The temporary pavilion will open to the public on 8 June and will remain in Kensington Gardens until 20 October.

Sou Fujimoto is the third Japanese architect to accept the annual unpaid commission, which is one of the most highly sought-after small projects in world architecture and goes to a major architect who hasn't yet built in the UK. Toyo Ito designed the pavilion in 2002, while SANAA followed in 2009. Past projects by Sou Fujimoto include a house that has hardly any walls, another with three layers of windows and a library with shelves on the exterior.

Last year's pavilion was a cork-lined archaeological dig created by Herzog & de Meuron with Ai Weiwei, who was forbidden to leave China at the time. Dezeen filmed interviews with Herzog & de Meuron at the opening, where Jacques Herzog told us how they sidestepped the regulations to be allowed to participate and Pierre de Meuron explained how cork was used to appeal to "all the senses, not just your eyes". Before that it was a walled garden by Peter Zumthor, who told us at the opening in 2011: "I’m a passionate architect... I do not work for money". Watch that movie here.

Other past commissions include Jean Nouvel and Frank Gehry - see our handy guide to all the Serpentine Gallery Pavilions here.

See all our stories about the Serpentine Gallery Pavilions »
See more architecture by Sou Fujimoto »

Images are by Studio Cyrille Thomas.

Here's the full statement from Sou Fujimoto:

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.

  • racosin

    Just out of curiosity – does anyone know what the budget is for each of the Serpentine Gallery Pavilions? If there is one at all.

    • fraperic

      It’s eight pounds.

  • JZ


  • This is beautiful! I’m also curious about the budget – I suspect the “8 pounds” was a joke? Anyway on a sunny day I’d love to venture there for my blog to catch the new design and the lovely shadows it creates.

    • H-J

      Why would you like to venture there for your blog? Go there for yourself and the experience you get out of it as a person, screw your blog.

  • invisiblea

    This is a wonderful example of mid-1980s Doozer-esqe design. “Architecture’s supposed to be enjoyed” indeed!

  • Alcoba

    It’s really amazing how do architects get inspired, have you seen Kengo Kuma’s Cidori pavilion at Milan Salone 2007?

  • Colonel Pancake

    My first impression is that the ground was totally neglected in the design process. It reads like a gluttony of sticks with a nominal gesture to leisure, represented by a couple of lawn chairs casually placed underneath. I see almost no hierarchy between the pavilion and its surroundings. The cluttered overhead structure suggests neither seclusion from the park nor focus outward to it, creating an almost no-man’s-land of casual nesting and iced coffee consumption.

    I guess I could be misinterpreting it though.

    • Weeble

      Would it be better if it had a ridiculous narrative like last years pavilion?

      • Colonel Pancake

        Good design justifies bad creative intentions. Good intentions don’t justify bad design.

  • Alexei

    Cute and perfect for Instagram, but is this really architecture or even an immersive space? Fujimoto is well known for pavilion-like houses, I’m a little disappointing with the proposal for the new Serpentine Pavilion.

  • Peter

    The idea behind this reminds me a lot of an exhibition I saw last year by Atelier Soler:

  • sensei

    Isn’t this basically a rip-off of the ill-fated Croatian Pavilion for the Venice Biennale a few years back?

  • Theo

    Didn’t Sou Fujimoto do something for the V&A’s mini-architecture thing a few years ago? I remember a little plastic cube that looked like a shattered ice cube.

  • JMA

    I see Junya Ishigami's ideas stolen here.

  • bolweevil

    Lots of dead birds.

  • JSC

    Why is the ground plane so static?

  • Julien

    They have done that in Burning Man too. Add that to the list.

    Seriously, I would not let my kids anywhere around the installation. If they run around, what are the chances that they would be impaled by steel poles?

  • JayCee

    Well scaffolding isn’t meant to be permanent, so it seems like an appropriate response to the brief.

  • Steve

    I predict hundreds of birds nesting and pooping over your head.

  • may

    Is the weather in London ever that nice? ;p

  • Max

    Judging from the images and text provided here, this proposal lacks integrity. The canopy does not seem to make use of the structural strength of steel in an interesting way, most of it is merely decorative and given a dubious epithet. If a softer or fibrous material was used, at least “the cloud” could be inhabited without the risk of getting pierced. And aren’t pavilions supposed to provide protection from sun, wind and rain?

    This design manages to use a maximum amount of material to provide a minimum of protection. Finally I don’t see the poetic dimension that could balance the above issues. But that’s a matter of taste I guess.

  • Emma

    Doesn’t live up to last year’s!

  • Ed

    Similar to Junya Ishigami, but I have also seen this before, I just wish I could remember the name of the student…