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2013 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion

Sou Fujimoto Architects

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dmadsen, hanley wood, llc

Project Name

2013 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion

Project Status


Year Completed



357 sq. meters


Serpentine Gallery


  • Structural Engineer: AECOM

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Project Description


The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2013 is designed by multi award-winning Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto. He is the thirteenth and, at 41, the youngest architect to accept the invitation to design a temporary structure for the Serpentine Gallery. The most ambitious architectural programme of its kind worldwide, the Serpentine’s annual Pavilion commission is one of the most anticipated events on the cultural calendar. 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.
Widely acknowledged as one of the most important architects coming to prominence worldwide, Sou Fujimoto is the leading light of an exciting generation of architects who are re-inventing our relationship with the built environment. Inspired by organic structures, such as the forest, 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.
Occupying some 357 square-metres of lawn in front of the Serpentine Gallery, Sou Fujimoto’s delicate, latticed structure of 20mm steel poles has a lightweight and semi-transparent appearance that allows it to blend, cloud-like, into the landscape against the classical backdrop of the Gallery’s colonnaded East wing. Designed as a flexible, multi-purpose social space – with a café run for the first time by Fortnum and Mason inside – visitors will be encouraged to enter and interact with the Pavilion in different ways throughout its four-month tenure in London's Kensington Gardens.
Fujimoto is the third Japanese architect to accept the invitation to design the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, following Pritzker Prize winners Toyo Ito in 2002 and Kazuyo Sejima & Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA in 2009.
AECOM have provided engineering and technical design services for the Pavilion for 2013. David Glover, AECOM’s global chief executive for building engineering, has worked on the designs of many previous Pavilions.

For the Serpentine Pavilion 2013, I have created a translucent architecture, a terrain that encourages people to explore the site in new and diverse ways. Within the pastoral context of Kensington Gardens, the vivid greenery surrounding the site merges with the constructed geometry of the Pavilion. A new form of environment has been created, where the natural and the man-made fuse. The inspiration for the design of the Pavilion was the concept that geometry and constructed forms could meld with the natural and the human. The fine, fragile grid creates a strong structural system that can expand to become a large cloud-like shape, combining strict order with softness. A simple cube, sized to the human body, is repeated to build a form that exists between the organic and the abstract, to create an ambiguous, soft-edged structure that will blur the boundaries between interior and exterior.
The Serpentine Pavilion 2013 is a delicate, three-dimensional, latticed structure, each unit of which is composed of fine steel bars. It forms a semi-transparent, irregular shape,
simultaneously protecting visitors from the elements while allowing them to remain part
of the landscape. The depth of the grid at different locations will create thicker walls or
thinner, transparent sections. The building’s footprint is 357 square metres and the
gross internal area is 142 square metres. The Pavilion has two entrances, with a
series of stepped terraces to provide integrated seating. The topography of the grid is a flexible, multi-purpose social space, where the walls, seating and roof are made of
the same steel cubes. In this way, the organic structure of the Pavilion overall creates
an adaptable terrain, encouraging visitors to create their own experience of the building.
Whether attending an event or simply relaxing in the Park, each person is invited to find a singular, favourite space inside and around the Pavilion. By day, it will function as a space open to all visitors, with a café. The largest of the terraced areas can be used as an events space, while other terraces provide further spaces for visitors to inhabit and explore. From certain vantage points, the fragile cloud of the Pavilion appears to merge with the classical structure of the Serpentine Gallery, its visitors suspended in the space
between architecture and nature.

For more information on the opening of the 2013 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, please visit

Further details can also be found on the Serpentine Gallery's information page:
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