Serpentine pavilion 2024 review – Minsuk Cho’s multi-use design is bold and playful

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“Do a belly flop.” “Spread your arms for illustration Jesus and past jump.” The photographers astatine nan property position for nan Serpentine pavilion are calling to me: I’ve ascended a statement climbing building that is portion of nan design, and they fancy a changeable of a moderately respectable gent flying connected to a nett underneath. If nan domiciled of snappers’ stuntman is an different summation to nan occupation explanation of an architecture critic, that’s because Minsuk Cho, nan South Korean designer of nan 23rd version of nan pavilion, sited extracurricular nan Serpentine Gallery successful Kensington Gardens, London, is nan first 1 to see what he calls a Play Tower successful nan project.

There’s besides a mini Library of Unread Books assembled by nan creator Heman Chong and nan archivist Renée Stall, and a sound installation, by nan musician and composer Jang Young-Gyu, successful summation to a cafe and events space, which are much habitual parts of nan pavilion brief. All these are arranged successful a star-shaped configuration of triangles and trapezia astir an quiet cardinal circle. The thought is to create a spot “of choices, alternatively than a expansive narrative”, arsenic nan designer puts it, wherever “you tin improvise, you tin prime and take your experience”.

Archipelagic Void, arsenic it is somewhat pretentiously called, is simply a task of galore facets, which reflects nan truth that Cho is simply a man of galore ideas. In nan people of an hour-plus speech astir his pavilion he fires disconnected references to architects good known to cognoscenti – nan German expressionist Bruno Taut, nan Brazilian brilliant Lina Bo Bardi, nan American visionary Richard Buckminster Fuller, nan 19th-century theorist Gottfried Semper, nan Mexican maestro of colour Luis Barragán, nan Austrian-American modernist Rudolf Schindler. Metaphors move from him. His pavilion is simply a star, an archipelago, a Swiss service knife, an architectural balanced of Korean multi-dish meals; its cardinal circle is nan Buddhist instrumentality of life. He compares nan Serpentine pavilion bid arsenic a full to nan James Bond franchise – ever nan aforesaid idea, but pinch different manifestations.

Cho, 58, founded and runs nan believe Mass Studies successful Seoul. Growing up successful nan repressive ambiance of South Korea’s subject dictatorship, he saw architecture arsenic a intends of escape, “a visa to spell wherever”. He studied astatine Columbia University, worked successful Rotterdam for Rem Koolhaas’s believe OMA and group up a believe successful New York earlier returning to his autochthonal country, by past a democracy. Coming from “a procreation wherever we had bad value of everything”, he now wants to clasp arsenic overmuch arsenic he tin of almost anything.

The pavilion and Serpentine Gallery viewed from above
‘Few preconceptions and fewer rules.’ Photograph: Photo © Mass Studies, Courtesy: Serpentine.

The activity of his believe has nary fixed style. They tin do nan cool solid boxes of their Osulloc beverage museum and their zigzagging skyscraper known arsenic S-Trenue. “I’ve ever been successful nary man’s land,” he says, which intends that, arsenic pinch caller Korean movies and music, location are fewer preconceptions and fewer rules. Seeing nan world of architecture arsenic divided betwixt nan “systematic” and “heterogeneous” camps, aliases “bold” and “sensitive”, he wants to beryllium both.

If there’s a communal taxable to his activity it’s a alternatively wide desire to create “places for group to meet” successful cities whose standard and architectural monotony frighten to make accepted urbanism impossible. So nan pavilion is intended to beryllium a gathering space, a small colony of different uses, pinch places to beryllium built into nan structure. The creation is besides astir connecting pinch its surroundings, drafting attraction to nan parkland astir it and to nan 1930s, Wren-style erstwhile beverage location that is nan Serpentine Gallery’s imperishable home. Affinities are group up successful nan tile pitches of aged and new, and done nan framing of trees by nan constructions of nan pavilion. The events space, a shed/tunnel unfastened astatine nan ends, comes up adjacent to nan aged gallic windows of nan existing gallery, making a beardown relationship pinch rooms wherever Yinka Shonibare is exhibiting.

Minsuk Cho astatine his pavilion.
Minsuk Cho astatine his pavilion. Photograph: Matthew Chattle/Rex/Shutterstock

The main worldly is timber, black-stained Douglas fir originated from 20 miles distant successful Surrey, formed into barn-like structures resting connected actual piers, successful places modernistically cantilevered. Despite its references to its surroundings, nan caller activity is not self-effacing. It is simply a rough-edged creation of sticks and stones, of insistent rhythms and jangling angles. The orangish integrative nets of nan Play Tower, on pinch fuchsia-coloured polycarbonate windows, forestall immoderate orientalist tropes of Zen serenity and minimalism. Regular geometric shapes are unpredictably mixed pinch scalene quadrilaterals. Sometimes nan protector of nan building looks much orderly than nan point itself – a axenic circle is formed connected nan crushed aliases a triangle of ray is framed successful comparative darkness.

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It’s an enjoyable, playful, centrifugal-centripetal place, loose but distinctive, not acrophobic to beryllium a spot ugly, afloat of contrasts and surprises, that gets a batch into its reasonably mini quadrate footage. There are bully ambiguities of wrong and retired – nan dark, enclosing tile of nan events space, for example, is unfastened to nan upwind astatine its ends and on its base. The creation is characterful but not dominating. It feels for illustration what it is – a impermanent building – alternatively than 1 that wishes it were permanent. It wears its making, achieved by nan manufacturing and engineering institution Stage One, connected its sleeve.

The Play Tower is simply a bully addition, arsenic sometimes Serpentine pavilions time off you wondering what precisely you are meant to do there, but it does airs different question. You mightiness person arsenic overmuch aliases much fun, it must beryllium said, successful your section rec, and you mightiness moreover find a cafe and a room nearby. But there’s still thing typical astir clambering astir a activity of architectural invention, pinch an creator of nan calibre of Shonibare connected show adjacent door.

Source theguardian