Korean Architect Minsuk Cho Unveils Serpentine Pavilion 2024

Image: Serpentine Pavilion 2024 Archipelagic Void designed by Minsuk Cho, Mass Studies © Mass Studies Photo: Iwan Baan Courtesy: Serpentine

The 23rd Serpentine Pavilion, aptly named “Archipelagic Void,” is set to debut on 7 June 2024. This year’s Pavilion is the brainchild of acclaimed Seoul-based Korean architect Minsuk Cho and his innovative firm, Mass Studies. The design, which features five distinct ‘islands,’ promises a unique architectural experience, each structure varying in size, form, and function. From June to October, the Pavilion will serve as a vibrant platform for Serpentine’s dynamic live program.

At the heart of the Pavilion is the Gallery, where visitors will be welcomed by a six-channel sound installation crafted by musician and composer Jang Young-Gyu. Drawing inspiration from the Pavilion’s surroundings, Jang’s work merges natural sounds from Kensington Gardens with traditional Korean vocal music and instruments, creating a harmonious blend of nature and culture.

Minsuk Cho Serpentine Pavilion 2024
Minsuk Cho Serpentine Pavilion 2024

To the north, The Library of Unread Books, an interactive artwork by artist Heman Chong and archivist Renée Staal, offers a contemplative space. This living reference library invites visitors to contribute unread books, fostering a communal pool of knowledge and literary curiosity.

The Serpentine building’s historical roots are honoured by the Tea House to the east. The original Serpentine South building, designed by James Grey West, served as a teahouse from its opening in 1934 until the early 1960s, later transforming into an art gallery in 1970. This new Tea House installation revives its historical essence, providing a serene spot for reflection.

Adding a playful twist, the Pavilion includes the Play Tower, a striking pyramid structure with bright orange nets for climbing and interaction. This feature, aimed at engaging visitors of all ages, underscores the Pavilion’s inclusive and dynamic spirit.

Dominating the western side is the Auditorium, the largest of the five islands. Its design includes built-in benches along the inner walls, creating an inviting space for public gatherings, performances, and talks. This multi-purpose structure is set to become a central hub for community interaction and cultural exchange throughout the summer.

The Architect Behind the Pavilion: Minsuk Cho
Minsuk Cho, a contemporary architecture luminary, continues pushing boundaries with his visionary designs. Born in 1966, Cho embarked on his architectural journey at Yonsei University in Seoul, earning a master’s degree from Columbia University in New York. In his early professional years, he included stints at prestigious firms like Kolatan/MacDonald Studio in New York and OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture) in Rotterdam, where he developed a distinctive approach to design.

In 2003, Cho co-founded Mass Studies, a Seoul-based architecture firm renowned for its experimental and context-sensitive projects. The firm’s innovative work seamlessly integrates natural and urban environments, utilizing cutting-edge materials and technology. Landmark projects such as Pixel House, Xi Gallery, and the Korea Pavilion for Expo 2010 in Shanghai have cemented Mass Studies’ reputation on the global stage.

The 23rd Serpentine Pavilion, aptly named "Archipelagic Void," is set to debut on 7 June 2024. This year's Pavilion
The 23rd Serpentine Pavilion, aptly named “Archipelagic Void,” is set to debut on 7 June 2024. This year’s Pavilion

Cho’s architectural philosophy often delves into themes of spatial complexity and cultural identity, creating spaces that resonate deeply with their surroundings and those who inhabit them. His diverse portfolio spans residential buildings, public spaces, and large-scale urban developments, all reflecting his commitment to sustainability and social responsibility.

In 2014, Cho’s outstanding contributions to architecture were recognized with the prestigious Golden Lion for Best National Participation at the 14th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale. Under his leadership, Mass Studies continues influencing contemporary architecture, inspiring a new generation with its forward-thinking and thoughtful designs.

Beyond his architectural achievements, Minsuk Cho is a prominent voice in architectural discourse, frequently lecturing and participating in international conferences and exhibitions. His work exemplifies creativity, technical expertise, and cultural sensitivity, making him a significant figure in the global architectural community.

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