The 2013 Serpentine Pavilion brought together Sou Fujimoto, the youngest architect to design the installation, and AECOM, a new engineer and technical consultant for the pavilion.
Working out of Tokyo and London respectively, the team communicated through an online collaboration system to run daily design meetings during the six-week design process. These meetings brought all contributors together from the beginning to the end of the project, discussing concepts and inputting information into an integrated model file. Fujimoto's team worked initially from physical models, while AECOM worked digitally.
Fujimoto's architecture explores the boundaries between indoor and outdoor and the complexities of space and form. His goal for the Pavilion was to create a cloud-like matrix that established exterior form and interior space without a hard boundary between indoor and outdoor. For AECOM the goal was to see that this structure, made of extremely thin steel tubes, was constructible, physically sound, and weather-proof, all without compromising the architect's vision.
AECOM designed a varied massing of steel to reduce the amount of steel used for the project by half. AECOM selected a unique type of pinned-joint that allowed for seamless three-dimensional joints. AECOM incorporated translucent, overlapping discs that reduce the effect of rain on the structure. The result was Fujimoto's vision realized in something that resembles nature's randomly artful geometry.
During the day the sun made the white-painted structure shine while at night a lighting design by AECOM gave it a soft glow. The crowds who packed the Pavilion and climbed throughout its uniquely defined spaces spoke to its success in engaging the senses and imagination. As required, the structure's removal left the royal parkland unspoiled by means of a thin concrete foundation that rested on the ground.