Disappearing Architecture

architect Sou Fujimoto
project Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, Kensington Gardens, London, Great Britain
written by Alan Kostrenčić


I feel like I’m disappearing – getting smaller every day
But I look in the mirror – I’m bigger in every way

Sonic Youth, Tunic (Song for Karen)[1]


Pavilions represent a specific category of architectural practice with a somewhat privileged position of freedom to test brand new concepts of realization which are not burdened by the responsibility of ‘permanent construction’. Since the Renaissance, scenes and stages for court festivities or royal anniversaries and similar events were used as opportunities to realize bold new architectural ideas and to create brand new spaces. Beatriz Colomina states this idea in her text ‘Future Pavilions’[2] by referring to Alison and Peter Smithson who believe that the centuries-old tradition of temporary theatrical structures played a key role in the evolution of ideas and tastes in the architecture. Pavilions as laboratories for creating and testing new architectural ideas proved themselves through a long tradition of world exhibitions, expos and similar events with their ‘temporary architecture’. One such event that questions and pushed the limits of understanding architecture is definitely the tradition of building the Serpentine Pavilion in Kensington Gardens.

[1] From the song Tunic (Song for Karen), from the album Goo in 1990 by the American alter-rock group Sonic Youth, dedicated to the pop star Karen Carpenter who died of anorexia.

[2] Beatriz Colomina: ‘Pavilions of the Future’, Oris, vol. 48, 2007, pp. 4-17