Mass Studies, a Seoul-based firm founded by Korean architect Minsuk Cho, has been named to design the 23rd Serpentine Pavilion in London’s Royal Park of Kensington Gardens. Mass Studies’s installation Archipelagic Void posits five “islands” designed around an open space. Mass Studies works across a number of typologies ranging from cultural buildings to residential projects.
In short, the design can be understood as a five-point star that shoots outward from the Serpentine Gallery. The central void will effectively function like the madang, a small courtyard common in old Korean houses. This void will accommodate rich spatial narratives ranging from quotidian happenings to large collective events. Each of the adaptable structures are each unique and have their own name and function: Gallery, Auditorium, Library, Tea House, and Play Tower—to form what the architect calls a “content machine.” The interstitial space between each of the points also serve as points of activation with the gallery and surrounding park setting.
The Gallery will be the main point of entry; it will extend Serpentine’s curatorial activities outside. An Auditorium will serve as a gathering area for performance- and lecture-based programming, while a small Library will be sited to the north. A Tea House will honor the Serpentine South’s historical role as a tea pavilion, and the Play Tower features an open, netted structure designed to climbed.
Cho said the process for iterating a design began “by asking what can be uncovered and added to the Serpentine site. … 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 centre as a void,” Cho said in a statement. “It also begins to address the history of the Serpentine Pavilion. By inverting the centre as a void, we shift our architectural focus away from the built centre of the past, facilitating new possibilities and narratives.”
Archipelagic Void follows the installation of Lina Ghotmeh’s À table. Past commissions include: Zaha Hadid (2000), Oscar Niemeyer (2003), Álvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura (2005), and 2022 Pritzker Prize laureate Francis Kéré (2017), Frida Escobedo (2018), Counterspace, led by Sumayya Vally (2021), among others.
For the tenth consecutive year Serpentine Pavilion is sponsored by Goldman Sachs. It will be on display from June 7 to October 27. As in past years cultural and educational programming will coincide with the installation, such as Park Nights, evening shows of music, poetry, spoken word, and dance performances.