Therme Art Program


Junya Ishigami. Image by Edmund Sumner for AZURE

Junya Ishigami (b. 1974, Japan) is one of the most innovative voices in architecture and contemporary design. Formerly of the architecture firm SANAA, Ishigami established his own firm, junya.ishigami + associates, in 2004.

Ishigami believes there are many differences between conventional architecture, as an artificial environment, and the natural environment, including various forms, systems, degrees of diversity, and times. Yet the most fundamental difference of them all is scale, from subatomic particles, insects and animals, to the human world, to the global scale and even to the incomprehensible vastness beyond our planet. Thus, Ishigami’s architectural approach seeks to integrate all of the various elements of a building, including natural and man-made elements and the environment.

The artist showed in the Japanese Pavilion at the 11th Venice Architecture Biennale (2008), and was the youngest ever recipient of the Architectural Institute of Japan Prize for the Kanagawa Institute of Technology KAIT Workshop (2009). In 2010, he won the Golden Lion for Best Project at the 12th Venice Architecture Biennale, and became an Associate Professor at Tohoku University in Japan. In 2014 he was made the Kenzo Tange Design Critic at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in the US.

In 2019, Therme Art acquired the second consecutive annual Serpentine Pavilion. On this occasion, Therme Art CEO and Head Curator Mikolaj Sekutowicz remarked that, “It has become incredibly important to merge nature and human architecture to overcome the environmental challenges our civilisation is currently facing. As a company, we are actively searching for solutions to challenges in architectural design and city planning through art. Ishigami’s design for this year’s Pavilion responds to these challenges, approaching solutions through the artistic and conceptual freedom provided by Serpentine Galleries.”



Consisting a complex arrangement of slates, the Pavilion forms a single canopy that appears to emerge straight from the earth on which it stands, functioning as a direct extension of nature and the earth itself. Created according to his ‘free space’ philosophy, the renowned Japanese architect’s Pavilion represents the seamless union of man-made and natural worlds, embodying a quiet but insistent call to rethink how we design and conceive of architecture’s role in contemporary urban life.

What I wanted to do was create this building to be a part of the natural landscape… Just as if there were a small new garden added to the Serpentine Gallery, I hope people can use it in many different ways. — Junya Ishigami

Read more on this collaboration:

Junya Ishigami Serpentine Pavilion 2019


In partnership with:

Serpentine, Therme Group