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Ishigami Junya founded his prize-winning architectural firm Junya Ishigami and Associates in 2004, collapsing the ideas of boundaries within architecture to bring playful solutions to buildings and structures, harmonising the man-made and natural across the world. Ishigami’s rise to fame began in 2007 with his design of the Kanagawa Institute of Technology workshop. The open plan space features hundreds of pillars scattered around a single room like trees springing from a natural forest floor.

Ishigami’s work has spanned the globe – from designing kindergartens and rest homes in Japan, through to the Church of the Valley in China and the Park Groot Vijversberg Project in the Netherlands. In 2015 Ishigami was appointed the Kenzo Tange Design Critic at Harvard Graduate School of Design. His esteemed work and philosophy of ‘free space’ led him to become the subject of a critically acclaimed solo exhibition at the Foundation Centre Pour L’Art in 2018.

Ishigami is the designer of the Serpentine Pavilion 2019 in London.

House of Peace, Copenhagen, Denmark (2014)

Also referred to as ‘HOPE’, this cloud-shaped structure was designed as a symbol of peace for Copenhagen’s Norhavn Harbour and was featured in Ishigami’s ‘Free Architecture’ exhibition in Paris. The building features a boating lake beneath an enormous billowing cloud roof.  Floating atop the lake, the boats are designed to represent lily pads resting on a body of water. The structure was designed to offer people a space for reflection, in silence, free from exterior disturbances or attention-grabbing signage beneath its plain white roof. The commissioners’ intent for the building was a space with a neutral, unbiased environment that would stand as a constant testimony to each individual’s wish for peace.

Kanagawa Institute of Technology Workshop, Kanagawa, Japan (2007) 

The KAIT workshop project shot Ishigami and his firm to esteem in the world of architecture. Ishigaimi’s design for this building brings a forest of 308 thin columns to an open plan, glass-sided workshop at the Kanagawa Institute of Technology. Each steel pole provides support for the structure whilst differing in width. The density between the poles also varies, creating random areas of open space in which to work – reminiscent of a real forest setting where the natural spaces are dictated by trees.

The Church of the Valley, Shandong, China (2017) 

The Chapel (or Church) of the Valley appears at the top of a hill in Shandong, China, seeming to jut out from between the rocks of a ravine. This strikingly narrow building of worship, which soars 40m into the sky yet is only 1.35m wide, is made entirely out of white concrete. The impact and scale of this white, rocket-like structure is extremely arresting amidst the natural surroundings.

Holiday Homes, Dali, China (2018)

The brief for this project required Ishigami to build eight holiday homes in Dali in southern China. Rather than excavate or clear the land, Ishigami worked instead with the obstacles which already littered the landscape, incorporating megalith boulders into the design and topping them with a 300m long reinforced concrete roof. This scale of this ultra-long canopy creates an enormous, meandering open space beneath for visitors to enjoy, with the natural world brought inside for all to appreciate and enjoy.

Cloud Garden, Atsugi, Japan (2015)   

Cloud Garden is Ishigami’s re-imagining of a typical day care space. He has filled the room, situated in an ex-cafeteria on the upper floor of an office block, with assorted curved shapes made of concrete to mimic the flow of clouds, which children can crawl under and over whilst at play. On his design, Ishigami notes: "I like to look at the clouds. Clouds change their form at will, with a certain rationality. Moreover, they are all white and fluffy, having both a sense of unity and some consistency. And they are vast."

House and Restaurant, Yamaguchi, Japan (2014)

This subterranean, cave-like space was designed for a Japanese chef who wanted to incorporate both his private residence and a restaurant within a building with a wine-cellar-like ambience. Differing in style to many of Ishigami’s white, expansive designs, he used natural holes in the ground as a mould for his concrete structure. Once removed, the tunnel-like spaces between the hanging concrete stalactites serve as the building’s walls, dictating the open spaces. The excavated rock design took seven years to put together and follows Ishigami’s philosophy of bringing natural elements of the landscape to the forefront.

Serpentine Pavilion, London, UK (2019)  

ISHIGAMI Junya is the architect of the 2019 summer Serpentine Pavilion 2019 – an annual architectural commission at London’s Serpentine Gallery, now in its 19th year. His design focuses on roofs and sees a gravity-defying slate canopy which appears to emerge from the ground, with a cave-like interior offering a space for refuge and contemplation. Though a typically heavy material to work with, the slate canopy appears as light as a piece of fabric blowing in the breeze, with tiny pieces of slate layered on top of one another for a rippled effect. The pavilion is open from 21 June – 6 October 2019 and is free to visit.