The 23rd Serpentine Pavilion, designed by Seoul-based Korean architect Minsuk Cho and his firm Mass Studies, has landed in Kensington Gardens next to Hyde Park.

Conceived as five artistic islands, the Archipelagic Void pavilion is a collection of ideas ranging from a library to a children’s climbing frame. Although each of the five arms is unique, they all share some common structural themes. The charred wooden timbers sit on top of concrete pillars, all a foundation for the five spaces above.

The Library of Unread Books by artist Heman Chong and archivist Renée Staal functions as a ‘living’ reference library, each book has been donated by its previous owner to form a pool of common knowledge. You are also welcome to contribute and submit an unread book in your possession to the growing collection.

Less cerebral, a red rope climbing frame fills the tallest triangularest island of the pavilion allowing you to climb up and get a slightly elevated view across the park.

There is one space where the blackened wood had to be given a glossy finish — the obligatory coffee shop counter. Two other empty islands, one barn-like and the other feeling curiously science fiction, are voids that will be used for events.

It’s a different idea from many of the previous summer pavilions, a collection of several very different ideas stitched together in the middle—this is more of  buffet selection, so you can choose the dish you prefer.

In that, it’s clever as a single design will appeal or not, but here there’s enough variety that something will appeal to most people.

I’ll be fascinated to see how the books in the library survive the British summer weather, though. Then again, maybe the chance of filling the shelves with soaked, rotting books will become some sort of artistic metaphor for fading knowledge.

The 23rd Serpentine Pavilion, Archipelagic Void, will be next to Serpentine South gallery until the end of October.

Entry is free – they seem to have tickets to guarantee entry, if you can find them.

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One comment
  1. Chris says:

    What a crock! I was there yesterday and couldn’t believe the design choices. The wood looks like it was burned in a forest fire. The pink plastic windows, and orange netting look garish and cheap. Which recycling bin does this go in ? The pavilions bin?

    It’s almost as bad as the strip tower nearby. If you sit with the tower behind you, just look up the avenue toward Kensington Palace and enjoy the trees. Infinitely better. Enough of this fellating coverage of garbage. London has too much already.

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