Junya Ishigami’s sinuous stone 2019 Serpentine Pavilion is now complete and will open to the public this Friday, June 21, on the grounds of the Serpentine Gallery in east London. Ishigami worked closely with AECOM to design a lightweight, open-ended structure that floats a canopy of slate tiles above an occupiable void.

Ishigami, the fourth Japanese architect to be tapped for a Serpentine commission since 2000, has designed a structure meant to evoke the feeling of wandering into a cave or forest as an extension of the natural landscape that complements the traditional architecture of the Serpentine Galleries. Sixty-seven tons of slate were used to create a swooping shingle roof that references a traditional building material found worldwide as well as natural rock formations.

The triangular pavilion curves downwards at the corners and visitors can enter through the uplifted middle sections, imbuing the roof with a “billowing” motion. Inside, a forest of white columns has been randomly distributed and once open, the pavilion will be filled with simple tables and chairs designed by Ishigami.

This year’s Serpentine Pavilion will be open to the public from June 21 through October 6 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The Serpentine Gallery will be staging its usual site-specific movie screenings, dances, written work, art, and dance as part of its Summer at the Serpentine series.

Photo of a slate shingle covered roof on a triangular pavilion

The Serpentine Pavilion from above. The roof curves down at the corners. (Iwan Baan)

Of course, if you’ve been following the news, this year’s pavilion hasn’t been without its share of drama. The discovery that Ishigami + Associates was requiring its interns to work 13-hour days, six a week for free (on top of having to supply their own equipment) set off a fervor online, and the Serpentine Gallery ordered the studio to pay anyone who was working on the pavilion.

The controversy doesn’t end there. Just this morning, the head of the Serpentine Galleries, Yana Peel, resigned, one week after the Guardian revealed that Peel co-owns the Israeli tech firm NSO Group, which licenses out spyware used to crack down on protestors and dissidents around the world.

The Serpentine Galleries released the following statement this morning, lauding Peel’s tenure:

“Yana leaves the Serpentine Galleries deeply grounded in its mission to provide both established and emerging artists with a dynamic platform to showcase their work, and well-positioned to thrive. While we have every confidence in the Serpentine’s ability to continue to serve artists, visitors, and supporters in the future, she will be sorely missed. The arts sector will be poorer without her immeasurable contributions to our cultural lives.”

Related Stories