Serpentine Announces Korean Office Mass Studies as the Designer of the 23rd Pavilion
Seoul-based Korean architect Minsuk Cho and his firm Mass Studies have been selected to design the 23rd Serpentine Pavilion, to open on June 5, 2024, in London’s Kensington Gardens. Titled “Archipelagic Void,” this iteration of the iconic commission will consist of five ‘islands’ displayed around an open space, breaking down the structure into a series of smaller elements intertwined with the park’s natural ecology. The pavilion will be open to the public from June 7, until October 27, 2024, with a press preview two days before the opening.
The multifaceted pavilion is arranged around a central void, which acts as a madang, the small courtyard often found in old Korean houses that gathers all the narratives of individual and collective everyday activities. This singular central void is designed to act in a similar way, anchoring the archipelago of structures surrounding it.
Around this void, the islands of the pavilion are envisioned as “content machines,” each serving a different purpose. The “Gallery” will become the main entry point, expanding the Serpentine South’s curatorial activities. The “Auditorium” is planned to become the main meeting space, near the small “library” to the north of the pavilion, which gives the option for pause and reflection. The “Tea House” takes cues from the historical gallery’s role as a tea pavilion, while the “Play Tower” opens up the space with a netted structure to encourage dynamic interactions.
A Look at the Last 6 Editions of the Serpentine Pavilion
The spaces between these structures also have distinct spatial identities, acting as thresholds between the surrounding park and the pavilion activities. All of these adaptable spaces are created to welcome people and to offer flexible spaces for live programs. The Pavilion offers an interdisciplinary platform for live encounters in music, poetry, spoken words, and dance, running alongside Serpentine’s Technology, and Ecology activations.
We began by asking what can be uncovered and added to the Serpentine site, which has already explored over 20 iterations at the center of the lawn, from a roster of great architects and artists. To approach this new chapter differently, instead of viewing it as a carte blanche, we embraced the challenge of considering the many existing peripheral elements while exploring the center as a void. It also begins to address the history of the Serpentine Pavilion. By inverting the center as a void, we shift our architectural focus away from the built center of the past, facilitating new possibilities and narratives. – Minsuk Cho, Architect, Mass Studies
Founded in 2003 by Minsuk Cho in Seoul, Korea, Mass Studies investigates matters of context, mass production, emerging urban conditions and cultural niches in order to find the defining spatial conditions of the present. The office is focused on spatial systems, building materials/techniques, and typological divergences that influence architectural production. In 2014, the Korean Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale, curated by Minsuk Cho together with Hyungmin Pai and Changmo Ahn, was awarded the Golden Lion Best National Participation. The office is also behind engaging projects such as Southcape Owner’s Club: Clubhouse, featuring curvatures that integrate it into the surrounding landscape, the Songwon Art Center, or the Osulloc Tea House Pavilions in South Korea.
Minsuk Cho’s appointment continues the Serpentine Pavilion’s effort to highlight upcoming names in the architecture practice. Last year, the commission was given to Beirut-born, Paris-based architect Lina Ghotmeh, who centered her approach around the idea of gathering to share a meal and engage in conversations. Previous editions have seen installations like Theaster Gates’ Black Chapel, Francis Kéré’s “symbol of togetherness”, Junya Ishigami’s “hill of rocks,” and BIG’s “unzipped wall.”