Modelled on the Serpentine’s annual Pavilion commission in London’s Royal Park of Kensington Gardens, the inaugural Serpentine Pavilion Beijing opens at WF CENTRAL on Wangfujing in Beijing’s Dongcheng District. Located just 600m away from the historic Forbidden City, this bustling area has been home to cultural and commercial activities since the middle of the Ming Dynasty. The Serpentine Pavilion Beijing will be a public space for cultural activities, events and social encounters at the very heart of WF CENTRAL, with a programme of cultural activities programmed across five Pavilion Weekends over the summer.
The eminent Chinese practice JIAKUN Architects, led by architect Liu Jiakun, has responded to the brief of designing a world-class temporary Pavilion that takes into consideration both the historic and social context of Beijing and the 18-year history of the Serpentine Pavilion commission. Initiated in 2000, the London scheme has showcased renowned architects from Zaha Hadid to Rem Koolhaas.
With a focus on society, community and vernacular craftsmanship, engaging a local context, Liu Jiakun aims to address contemporary architectural issues with a sense of realism, an approach inspired by folk wisdom. His vision remains open to China's many traditions and his projects shed light on the reciprocal relation between Chinese public life and urban cultural space.
JIAKUN Architects’ Serpentine Pavilion Beijing takes inspiration from Confucianism with an architecture that is a physical representation of the traditional pursuit of Junzi. The design is characterised by the figure of the Archer, in the form of a curved cantilever beam that incorporates the forces of elasticity through cables stretched between steel plates. Although modern architecture in Beijing has developed a series of powerful techniques to fight the external forces of fierce winds and unpredictable earthquakes, the Pavilion’s integral structure aims – like the Tai Chi Master – to conquer the harshness of those forces with softness.
The Serpentine Pavilion Beijing will be in place at WF CENTRAL until 31 October and represents a unique cultural association between the Serpentine Galleries and WF CENTRAL, founded on a shared passion for architecture and design. It also provides the architectural backdrop to the Serpentine Pavilion Beijing programme. At the core of this programme will be a wide range of art, cultural and lifestyle activities programmed within and around the structure.
Activities include five monthly Pavilion Weekends featuring two themed thought-leadership talks, ‘Inspiration Talks’ and ‘The Future of’ series, and a wide range of community activities, including well-being workshops, lawn parties, children’s disco classes, performances and curated outdoor art-cinema evenings. The Inspiration Talks series brings together celebrated architects and artists with thought-leaders across a wide spectrum of industries, invited to debate topics including the role of art and culture in innovation, society and urban renewal.