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Architect Cho Min-suk to design Serpentine Pavilion in London

Jan. 23, 2024 - 17:56 By Kim Hoo-ran
Rendering of the Serpentine Pavilion 2024 designed by Cho Min-suk and Mass Studies (© Mass Studies, Courtesy of Serpentine)

The Korean concept of “madang,” a multi-functional courtyard, will be central to the 23rd Serpentine Pavilion designed by Seoul-based architect Cho Min-suk and his firm, Mass Studies.

The pavilion, titled “Archipelagic Void,” will be unveiled at Serpentine South in London on June 5, Serpentine said in announcing the choice of this year’s pavilion Monday.

Shaped like a five-pointed star with a void in the center, “Archipelagic Void” will consist of five “islands” designed around an open space. The central open space will function like “madang,” a multi-purpose courtyard found in the design of traditional Korean houses. The private yet communal space serves many roles --- a place for everyday activities as well as special occasions such as weddings and funeral rites.

Each of the five distinct covered spaces -- a gallery, an auditorium, a library, a tea house and a play tower -- will envision a “content machine,” according to Serpentine. The five covered spaces and the five in-between open areas will integrate seamlessly with the surrounding park and pavilion activities.

The pavilion will be open for viewing from June 7 through Oct. 27.

“We embraced the challenge of considering the many existing peripheral elements while exploring the center as a void,” said Cho in a statement released by Serpentine. “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,” he said.

The award-winning Cho served as the commissioner and co-curator of the Korean Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale, which won the Golden Lion Award for the Best National Pavilion. His project in Venice, “Crow’s Eye View: The Korean Peninsula,” was a survey of the architecture of South and North Korea. He has received the Hwagwan Order of Cultural Merit from the Korean government in recognition of his contribution to the field of culture.

Cho Min-suk (© Photo by Mok Jungwook)

Cho’s recently completed projects include the restoration and extension of the French Embassy in Korea, originally designed by Kim Chung-up and completed in 1961, and the renovation and extension of the Osulloc Tea Museum and the Osulloc Green Tea Factory.

Starting with its first iteration in 2000 by Zaha Hadid, Serpentine has commissioned a temporary summer pavilion by some of the biggest names in architecture.

The Serpentine Pavilion has been a highly anticipated platform for architectural experimentation by emerging talent internally. Past commissions include “A Table” by Beirut-born Lina Ghotmeh in 2023, “Black Chapel” by Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates in 2022 and 2022 Pritzker winner Diébédo Francis Kéré’s design inspired by his hometown of Gando, Burkina Faso in 2017.

Rendering of the Serpentine Pavilion 2024 designed by Cho Min-suk and Mass Studies (© Mass Studies, Courtesy of Serpentine)