A cloud-like cluster of white steel rods will shimmer above the trees in Kensington Gardens this summer, courtesy of Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto. He has been announced as the latest designer of the Serpentine Gallery’s annual pavilion commission and he promises to bring a vision of airy lightness, in marked contrast to last year’ssubterranean grotto by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei.
His proposal is for a delicate lattice structure of 20mm-thick steel poles, which will form an irregular, shape-shifting mass in front of the gallery, a misty wire-frame blur that will dissolve into the park.
“Within the pastoral context of Kensington Gardens, I envisage the vivid greenery of the surrounding plant life woven together with a constructed geometry,” says Fujimoto. He describes the project as “an architectural landscape: a transparent terrain that encourages people to interact with and explore the site in diverse ways.”
Many architects like to think their buildings dissolve and “dematerialise” into their surroundings. They talk in earnest about “fluid space” and the continuity of inside and out – the simple use of a window or door endowed with the rhetoric of free flow. But Fujimoto actually does it.
His buildings and structures are composed of multiple layers and levels, creating permeable enclosures that only loosely suggest rooms and routes – what he describes as “formless form”. He talks of his projects taking on the characteristics of a “cave or nest”, a primitive shell to be defined by the user’s occupation, “just a raw space, which people need to explore and find their own comfort within.”
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