Serpentine Pavilion Beijing 2018 designed by JIAKUN Architects
Contemporary Art

The First Foreign Serpentine Pavilion in Beijing Is a Sight to Behold

By Gareth Harris

T he Serpentine Galleries in London has exported one of its most recognizable projects to China, launching the first international Serpentine Pavilion in Beijing. Zaha Hadid created the inaugural design for this high-profile architectural platform at the Kensington Gardens gallery in 2000, and last year’s iteration by the African architect Diébédo Francis Kéré attracted more than 200,000 visitors.

Serpentine Pavilion Beijing 2018 designed by JIAKUN Architects

Local architecture practice Jiakun Architects has designed the Beijing space, which opened in May and occupies around 250 square metres of lawn at the WF Central retail hub in the historic Wangfujing neighbourhood. “Our design incorporates the forces of elasticity through a series of cables stretched between steel plates,” says Liu Jiakun, the firm’s founder, adding that it draws inspiration from Confucianism.

Rendering of the Serpentine Pavilion Beijing 2018, designed by Jiakun Architects. © Jiakun Architects Courtesy of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)

The venue, which is open until the autumn, will be used for cultural and social events. Hans-Ulrich Obrist, the Serpentine’s artistic director, emphasizes its versatility: “The pavilion is like a content machine, it becomes an instrument and a platform for performances, films and discussions.”

Is this about building the Serpentine brand worldwide? “This is a way of contributing to the global discussion; we do not believe in franchising and want to build links in a local context,” Obrist says.

The Serpentine Pavilion Beijing is on view through 28 October.

Serpentine Pavilion Beijing 2018 designed by JIAKUN Architects

RELATED VIDEO: Watch Architect Liu Jiakun in Conversation with Serpentine Artistic Director Hans Ulrich Obrist

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