Sou Fujimoto’s Cloud Atlas

photo (c) Iwan Baan

photo (c) Iwan Baan

Sou Fujimoto at the 2013 Serpentine Gallery architecture pavilion achieved all the benchmarks for public art interventions in an economically-based, even austere cultural climate. Fujimoto’s pavilion serves as a beacon for visitors to the Serpentine Gallery and acts as a respite location, situated within Kensington Gardens in a practical sense. Visitors are permitted to climb high into the superstructure and can survey the surrounding landscape from a heightened position. Conversely, one can enter the pavilion at ground level surrounded by the grid-like superstructure whose transparent, modular components visually dissolve into the sky. The form of Fujimoto’s pavilion performs the dual service of emerging from and integrating seamlessly into the manicured, bucolic landscape of Hyde Park. In the UK, gardens tend to be manicured rather than allowed to grow wild by virtue of limited space; the three dimensional pixelated forms that comprise the building blocks for the pavilion are reminiscent of our daily interaction with digital media.

Fujimoto’s pavilion fulfills the curatorial premise initiated by Serpentine Gallery Director, Julia Peyton-Jones which has been to articulate a space for temporary architectural interventions located outside the Serpentine Gallery on a yearly basis since the program began in 2000 and has included architectural pavilions by Ai WeiWei/Herzog & de Meuron (2012), Jean Nouvel (2010) Frank Gehry (2008) Zaha Hadid (2000 & 2007), Rem Koolhaas (2006) and Oscar Niemeyer (2003). Traditional pavilions and follies are scattered throughout Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park recalling historical painterly depictions of landscape and other pastoral traditions. Fujimoto’s expanding, grid-like pavilion would not serve as a shelter from the elements due to its airy and transparent nature, however, the fusion of organic with inorganic elements as a form of organization effectively use the existing landscape to inform its endlessly replicating superstructure.