Today 18 June 2019, marks an historic day for the Lake District, Cumbria as the Serpentine Pavilion 2019 is revealed to the public, this year clad entirely with slate from England’s last working slate mine Honister.
The Serpentine Pavilion is an annual architecture commission run by Serpentine Galleries in London, providing a global platform for experimental projects by some of the world’s greatest architects. This year innovative architecture meets nature and centuries old heritage skills in the design by Japanese architect Junya Ishigami.
Visitors to Kensington Gardens in central London will be able to go inside and walk around Ishigami’s design, which has an organic, natural feel taking inspiration from roofs, the most common architectural feature used around the world. The structure uses over 61 tonnes of Honister green slate to create a single canopy of layered stone, appearing to emerge from the ground of the surrounding park.
Not only is this a reflection of the quality of Cumbrian product, but it represents a major coup for the North of England’s creative, construction and heritage industries with the project utilising the fabrication skills behind the scenes of Yorkshire based Stage One, Cumbrian stonemasons from Eden Stoneworks and the slate from Honister.
Joe Weir Co-Owner of Honister Slate Mine says, ‘We’re a bit overwhelmed by the scale of the project, we’re just a small family run mine on a mountain, it’s makes us tingle with pride. This project is one-of-a-kind and an absolute privilege to enable and help realise the ideas of such an exciting architect. It’s a beautiful thing, the way Junya Ishigami is showcasing the natural qualities of the slate, his design reflects the rugged nature of the landscape we live and work in. We recommended several local stonemasons to Ted at Stage One and we’re chuffed that Eden Stonework were chosen to install the slate onsite. We’re proud to be keeping these centuries old stone masonry skills alive as part of the World Heritage Site story of the Lake District.’
Ted Featonby at Stage One says, ‘This is the 11th year in a row Stage One have worked on the Serpentine Pavilion. It’s a pleasure to source and bring together independent Northern businesses to work on this project. The design was going to be sandstone, but then we started looking at slate. It was my wife, who used to live in Keswick that suggested Honister Slate. We came and got samples. The slate was distinctive and there was a synergy about the location with the ideology of the architect Junya Ishigami.’
Adam Knowles from Eden Stoneworks says, ‘It’s not like any job we’ve done before. We weren’t quite sure what to expect until we got onsite. The experimental form and design of the structure has pushed the boundaries of how the stones masons worked with the material, which we mainly use in more traditional applications. Delighted to take our Northern lads down to London to demonstrate the craftsmanship and creativity we have in Cumbria to an international audience.’
For anyone inspired by the qualities of the slate and looking to take a bit of the mountain back to their home, Honister Green Slate is handcrafted into a wide range of home, garden and lifestyle items in the workshop at the mine. Using an innovative and creative approach, every last bit of extracted slate is turned into a desirable and functional product by the team of skilled craftspeople at Honister. Bespoke designs can be made to order by the in-house team or off the shelf products purchased online or in the shop at the mine.