Architect Liu Jiakun‘s Serpentine Pavilion Beijing is the first foray outside Britain for the Serpentine Gallery‘s temporary pavilion series. Previously, they’ve been erected in London’s Kensington Park by starchitects like the late Zaha Hadid and Dutch boy wonder, Bjarke Ingels.
But this design is rigorous and minimal with zero flash, as in Jiakun’s previous work like his Luyeyuan Buddhist Sculpture Museum, left. He describes his work as “low-tech”. The Serpentine’s artistic director, Hans Ulrich Obrist said,
“His projects engage with a local context, connecting Chinese public life and urban cultural space.“
As we near the tenth anniversary of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, his approach stands in stark contrast to that event that signaled China’s return as a global power. Just a stone’s throw from the Forbidden City, Liu’s Serpentine Pavilion Beijing is aligned with the Bird’s Nest stadium by the Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron, but the two are separated by more than just 10 years. The contrast represents a big shift in architectural tone.
According to Liu, it reflects the Confucian concept of “junzi,” a morally cultivated self expressed as a metaphor of an archer’s bow,
“I wanted it to give a sense of inner strength. It’s like an archer standing firm without firing a shot. It’s pure force, but how you handle that force reflects your cultural attitude.“
The Serpentine Gallery’s CEO, Yana Peel, summed up the choice saying,
“He’s the right architect at the right time.“
(Photos, WF Central; via CNN)