Junya Ishigami announced as Serpentine Pavilion 2019 designer

The design of the Serpentine Pavilion 2019
The design of the Serpentine Pavilion 2019, interior view.
(Image credit: © Junya Ishigami + Associates)

Junya Ishigami has been revealed as the designer of the next Serpentine Pavilion in London, which opens on 20 June 2019. The Japanese architect is the 19th participant to design a temporary summer pavilion for the Serpentine Gallery lawn. 

Ishigami, who worked at SANAA before founding his own practice in 2004, is known for his experimental, naturalistic forms inspired by the earth, the elements and nature. His approach – defined by his ‘free space’ philosophy – seeks to recreate the patterns and biological devices of nature within man-made structures.

Interior of pavilion

Design render of the exterior of the Serpentine Pavilion 2019.

(Image credit: © Junya Ishigami + Associates)

His Serpentine Pavilion design will emerge from the earth of Kensington Gardens, growing into a roof canopy that shelters a cave-like space beneath it, forming a quiet refuge. The pavilion’s roof made of multiple slates will be the main architectural device. Ishigami was inspired by the integral role that the simple ‘roof' plays in architecture across the world.

Inside, the cave-like space will aim to provide a space for contemplation. Ishigami has previously been inspired by caves, as seen in the manmade recreation of natural erosion in his House/Restaurant in Yamaguchi.

Possessing the weighty presence of slate roofs seen around the world, the cluster of scattered rock levitates like a billowing piece of fabric

Junya 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,' Ishigami explains. ‘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. 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’.


Ishigami’s dream-like creations were the subject of a solo show at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art Contemporain in 2018, which will travel to the Power Station in Shanghai later this year. The exhibition displayed 20 of Ishigami’s past, current and future projects through large-scale models, accompanied by drawings and film, opening up insight into his extremely varied and unconventional works. It will be a joy to have an Ishigami-designed architectural experience in London for the first time. Zaha Hadid was the first architect to design a Serpentine Pavilion in 2000, and ever since, it has been bringing new architects to London who have never previously built in the UK. We have no doubt that Ishigami’s pavilion design will follow the success of the previous couple of years’ pavilions – Frida Escobedo (2018) and Francis Kéré (2017) – which brought with them new approaches to architecture and each opened up unique debates on design. Ishigami was selected by Hans Ulrich Obrist, artistic director of Serpentine Galleries, and Yana Peel, Serpentine Galleries CEO, alongside advisors including David Adjaye and Richard Rogers.

Junya Ishigami’s pavilion design

Junya Ishigami’s pavilion design for the Japanese Pavilion at the 2008 Venice Architecture Biennale

(Image credit: © Junya Ishigami + Associates)

Kanagawa Institute of Technology Workshop interior

Ishigami’s Kanagawa Institute of Technology Workshop in Japan. The ethereal education building, located in Ishigami’s home town, was completed in 2008.

(Image credit: © Junya Ishigami + Associates)

Studio and under construction project

Ishigami’s studio (left) and the construction site of the Yamaguchi House/Restaurant, once the earth had been dug from around the concrete stalactites (right)

(Image credit: © Junya Ishigami + Associates)

Studies for the Yamaguchi House/Restaurant pillars

Studies for the Yamaguchi House/Restaurant pillars

(Image credit: © Junya Ishigami + Associates)

House With Plants

His residential work includes House With Plants, a home for a young couple in Tokyo, pictured here

(Image credit: © Junya Ishigami + Associates)


The Serpentine Pavillion will be on view from 20 June to 6 October 2019. For more information, visit the Serpentine Galleries website


Kensington Gardens
London, W2 3XA


Harriet Thorpe is a writer, journalist and editor covering architecture, design and culture, with particular interest in sustainability, 20th-century architecture and community. After studying History of Art at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and Journalism at City University in London, she developed her interest in architecture working at Wallpaper* magazine and today contributes to Wallpaper*, The World of Interiors and Icon magazine, amongst other titles. She is author of The Sustainable City (2022, Hoxton Mini Press), a book about sustainable architecture in London, and the Modern Cambridge Map (2023, Blue Crow Media), a map of 20th-century architecture in Cambridge, the city where she grew up.