Serpentine Pavilion 2024 by Minsuk Cho, Mass Studies

Serpentine Pavilion 7 June - 27 October 2024 Free Donate today

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Tracing the history of past Serpentine Pavilions, Minsuk Cho observed that they often emerge as a singular structure situated at the centre of the Serpentine South lawn. To explore new possibilities and previously untold spatial narratives, Cho approaches the centre as an open space. The 23rd Serpentine Pavilion envisions a unique void surrounded by a constellation of smaller, adaptable structures strategically positioned at the periphery of the lawn.

Titled Archipelagic Void, the Pavilion is composed of five ‘islands’, each structure is unique in size, height and form. Built predominantly in timber, these structures are supported by identical footings that adapt to the slightly sloping topography of the site. The curving edges of the individual roofs are conjoined by a steel ring which forms an oculus in the centre that draws natural light. Radiating from the circular void, these islands act as nodes in the lawn, reaching out to connect to the Serpentine South gallery and the pedestrian networks in the Park. This layout also references traditional Korean houses that feature a madang, an open courtyard located at the centre. This space connects to various residential quarters, accommodating individual everyday activities and larger collective rituals throughout the changing seasons.

Around the void, each structure is conceived as a ‘content machine’, serving a different purpose and individually named. The Gallery hosts a six-channel sound installation, The Willow is <버들은> and Moonlight <월정명>. Created by musician and composer Jang Young-Gyu, the work incorporates sounds from nature and human activities recorded in the Kensington Gardens with traditional Korean vocal music and instruments to depict the transition of seasons. The largest structure of the five ’islands’ is the Auditorium. With benches built into its inner walls, this space will provide an area for public gathering, performances and talks to take place. Located to the north is The Library of Unread Books by artist Heman Chong and archivist Renée Staal. This ‘living’ reference library, is comprised of donated unread books to form a pool of common knowledge, addressing notions of access, excess and the politics of distribution. The southeast Play Tower is a pyramid structure fitted with a bright orange netscape for visitors to climb and interact. In a nod to the history of the Serpentine, Cho incorporates the Tea House to the east of the Pavilion. Designed by James Grey West, the Serpentine South building originally functioned as a teahouse before reopening as an art gallery in 1970.


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