Japanese architect Junya Ishigami has been announced as the designer for this year’s Serpentine Pavilion. So HEKKTA takes a closer look at this mysterious architect’s most revered works, picking out six of our favourites.

Each year, the Serpentine Gallery in London commissions a pavilion to be built on it’s grounds, choosing a leading architect to design it. The roster of previous designers include some of the most well-known architects from around the globe, such as Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry, Jean Nouvel and Bjarke Ingels, so the invitation is prestigious to say the least.

This year, Junya Ishigami has been chosen, and although we hesitate to admit it, we had not heard much from this architect before. So we decided to investigate further.

Junya Ishigami
Junya Ishigami

After attending the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music in 2000, he left with an Architecture and Planning Masters, later going onto set up his own firm Junya Ishigami + Associates.

It was after the formation of his own firm that he started turning heads in the architecture world.

His KAIT Workshop for the Kanagawa Institute of Technology saw him become the youngest recipient of the Architectural Institute of Japan Prize just two years after setting up his firm.

KAIT Workshop - Ishigami 2008
KAIT Workshop – Ishigami 2008

His early achievements continued, winning the Golden Lion for best project at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2010.

His Japanese Pavilion impressed, with glass and nature weaving in and out of each other seamlessly, creating an “artificial environment”.

Japanese Pavilion - Ishigami
Japanese Pavilion – Ishigami

His House & Restaurant, however, must be his most daring and intriguing project to date. It’s clear to see the link Ishigami makes with nature, and that is as apparent as ever in his House & Restaurant.

Situated in Yamaguchi, Japan, he poured concrete into holes in the ground, with the holes acting as moulds for the setting material. Once set, what emerged was a labrinth of cave-like spaces, with a very earthy feel.

The combined house and restaurant, whilst being very different to his other projects, is surely his most creative.

House & Restaurant - Ishigami
House & Restaurant – Ishigami
House & Restaurant - Ishigami
House & Restaurant – Ishigami
House & Restaurant - Ishigami
House & Restaurant – Ishigami

Another of Ishigami’s sleek designs was a three-pronged visitor centre in The Netherlands, which he collaborated with studio MAKS to design.

The Park Groot Vijversburg Visitor Center - Ishigama
The Park Groot Vijversburg Visitor Center – Ishigama

Ishigama helped to extend the historical villa to create the Park Groot Vijversburg Visitor Center, which played host to exhibtions, musical performances and even church services.

The Park Groot Vijversburg Visitor Center - Ishigama
The Park Groot Vijversburg Visitor Center – Ishigama

It’s certainly rare that an architects’ stand out projects is contain a garden atop water, but that is the case here! Ishigama’s Botanical Garden Art Biotop is part of a health resort in Japan, and the eery nature of the project is very reminiscent of his Japanese Pavilion.

A biotop is essentially an area of habitat for a certain animal or species, and the ones Ishigama has created here were created using water drawn from a watercourse that was once used to irrigate rice paddy fields.

He is certainly no stranger to a bit of creativity.

Botanical Garden Art Biotop - Ishigama
Botanical Garden Art Biotop – Ishigama

The next project is in the pipeline, so I suppose we are cheating slightly on our top picks, but if this comes into fruition, it could well be our favourite.

Teaming up with Svendborg Architects, the duo won a competition with their idea to create a ‘floating cloud’ on the Copenhagen harbour which would act as a ‘symbol of peace’.

In typical Ishigami style, the building is a strange venture. Less a building, more a huge floating shelter on the water, described by the designers as “a journey of the senses” that can “never twice be experienced as the same”.

HOPE - Ishigami
HOPE – Ishigami

“House of Peace creates an environment where people can open up to think of peace. It takes one back to the purity of being – ready to embrace the world,”.

HOPE - Ishigami
HOPE – Ishigami

So what are Ishigami’s ideas for the Serpentine Pavilion?

His ideas are to create a slanted roof of slate which appears as though its rising out of the ground.

It is an extension of his theology that architecture can be an extension of nature.

Serpentine Pavilion 2019 - Ishigami
Serpentine Pavilion 2019 – Ishigami

“My design for the pavilion plays with our perspectives of the built environment against the backdrop of a natural landscape, emphasising a natural and organic feel as though it had grown out of the lawn, and resembling a hill made out of rocks,”.

“This is an attempt to supplement traditional architecture with modern methodologies and concepts, to create in this place an expanse of scenery like never seen before,” he continued.

“Possessing the weighty presence of slate roofs seen around the world, and simultaneously appearing so light it could blow away in the breeze, the cluster of scattered rock levitates, like a billowing piece of fabric.”

We look forward to seeing the pavilion completed in June.