In London, Minsuk Cho’s Serpentine Pavilion, Archipelagic Void, opens

Content Machine

In London, Minsuk Cho’s Serpentine Pavilion, Archipelagic Void, opens

The 2024 Serpentine Pavilion Archipelagic Void, designed by Minsuk Cho, Mass Studies (Iwan Baan/Courtesy Serpentine)

In London, Archipelagic Void by Seoul-based architect Minsuk Cho, founder of Mass Studies, opened to the public today. The debut marks the 23rd Serpentine Pavilion and the 10th consecutive year the program has been sponsored by Goldman Sachs.

Minsuk Cho was named this year’s Serpentine Pavilion designer in January. New photography by Iwan Baan captures Archipelagic Void set within the serene confines of Kensington Gardens. The star-shaped pavilion has five individual spaces each with their own function that coalesce around an open void.

The installation layout, Cho said, alludes to madang, an open courtyard typology found in traditional Korean houses. Around the void are five structures that Cho envisions to serve as “content machine[s].” Each of the machines have their own unique names including the Gallery, Library, Auditorium, Tea House and Play Tower.

2024 Serpentine Pavilion
The installation draws from traditional Korean architecture. (Iwan Baan/Courtesy Serpentine)

Together, the machines form ten spaces surrounding the void: The ensemble creates five distinct covered spaces and five open ones that are integrated with the surrounding park and Pavilion activities.

The Gallery is the Pavilion’s main entrance which hosts six-channel sound installations created by musician and composer Jang Young-Gyu. The audio will change with the seasons: The Willow in the summer and Moonlight  in the fall. Young-Gyu’s music takes cues from traditional Korean vocal music and nature and human sounds recorded in Kensington Gardens.

people reading books from shelves inside pavilion
The installation has an active library that guests can contribute to. (Iwan Baan/Courtesy Serpentine)
person reading book inside pavilion
(Iwan Baan/Courtesy Serpentine)

Just north of the pavilion is The Library of Unread Books by artist Herman Chong and archivist Renée Staal. There, the pair made an artwork that functions as a living reference library. Each book has been donated by its previous owner to form a pool of common knowledge, an artist statement reads. Guests who come to the Serpentine Pavilion can contribute and submit their own book to the growing collection.

For tea time, Cho prescribed Tea House to the pavilion’s east; and Play Tower, a pyramidal structure with a bright orange netscape for children to climb, is also nearby. Then to the west, Auditorium is the largest of the five structures which contains built-in benches in its inner walls which allows for public gatherings like performances and talks.

nightview of pavilion
Evening view (Iwan Baan/Courtesy Serpentine)
The pavilion was designed to host evening activities. (Iwan Baan/Courtesy Serpentine)

At night, Serpentine will host Park Nights, the annual interdisciplinary platform for music, poetry, performance, and dance. Among this year’s performers will be choreographer Eun-Me Ahn and her company on 28 June. On June 29 poetry by acclaimed artists Don Mee Choi and Denise Riley will adjourn. Further details will be announced soon, Serpentine officials said.

Minsuk Cho will be in conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist about the installation on June 7.

Archipelagic Void is open through October 27.