Serpentine Pavilion Heads to Beijing
1. February 2018
London's Serpentine Galleries and Beijing's WF CENTRAL have announced a co-commission for the first Serpentine Pavilion outside of London. Designed by Jiakun Architects, the pavilion will open in May 2018.
Their joint announcement indicates that the project is modeled on Serpentine Galleries' temporary pavilion in London's Park of Kensington Gardens, which has been mounted annually since 2000. In turn, the selection of Jiakun Architects was made by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Yana Peel of Serpentine Galleries, alongside architect Sir David Adjaye and a handful of others on the search committee. Unlike the London pavilion's commission, which is given to an architect who has not built in the UK, the firm of architect Liu Jiakun has already built a good deal in China.
The form of the pavilion, recalling archery, is a curved cantilever beam that incorporates forces of elasticity through cables stretched between steel plates. (Render of the Serpentine Pavilion Beijing 2018, Design by Jiakun Architects, © Jiakun Architects)
The announcement describes Jiakun's architecture "with a focus on society, community and a respect for local context and vernacular craftsmenship." Furthermore, he "aims to address contemporary architectural issues with a sense of realism, an approach inspired by folk wisdom." Therefore his design for the Serpentine Pavilion "takes inspiration from Confucianism with an architecture that is a physical representation of the traditional pursuit of Junzi," loosely defined as a moral exemplar. The "pavilion’s integral structure aims – like a Tai Chi master – to conquer the harshness of [the external forces of fierce winds and unpredictable earthquakes] with softness."
The pavilion will form the architectural centerpiece of the nearly 700-square-meter outdoor lawns of The Green at WF CENTRAL. (Render of the Serpentine Pavilion Beijing 2018, Design by Jiakun Architects, © Jiakun Architects)
WF CENTRAL, which is developed by Hongkong Land and had its "soft opening" in November 2017, is a 21,000-square-meter commercial development is billed as a "retail, fine dining and hospitality hub." Through some cultural branding, the presence of Serpentine Galleries in the form of its inaugural Beijing pavilion will lend the development a non-commercial component.
Jiakun Architects' pavilion will be on display at WF CENTRAL from May to October 2018.
The Serpentine Galleries typically announces the architect for its London pavilion in February, so stay tuned for that bit of news.