Architect Diébédo Francis Kéré to design Serpentine Pavilion 2017

Diébédo Francis Kéré, the award-winning architect from Gando, Burkino Faso, has been commissioned to design the Serpentine Pavilion 2017, responding to the brief with a bold, innovative structure that brings his characteristic sense of light and life to the lawns of Kensington Gardens.

Serpentine Pavilion 2017, Designed by Francis Kéré, Design Render, Exterior ©Kéré Architecture

Serpentine Pavilion 2017, Designed by Francis Kéré, Design Render, Exterior ©Kéré Architecture

Kéré, who leads the Berlin-based practice Kéré Architecture, is the seventeenth architect to accept the Serpentine Galleries’ invitation to design a temporary Pavilion in its grounds. Since its launch in 2000, this annual commission of an international architect to build his or her first structure in London at the time of invitation has become one of the most anticipated events in the global cultural calendar and a leading visitor attraction during London’s summer season. Serpentine Artistic Director Hans Ulrich Obrist and CEO Yana Peel made their selection of the architect, with advisors David Adjaye and Richard Rogers.

Inspired by the tree that serves as a central meeting point for life in his home town of Gando, Francis Kéré has designed a responsive Pavilion that seeks to connect its visitors to nature – and each other. An expansive roof, supported by a central steel framework, mimics a tree’s canopy, allowing air to circulate freely while offering shelter against London rain and summer heat.

Interior: Serpentine Pavilion 2017, Designed by Francis Kéré, Design Render, Interior ©Kéré Architecture

Serpentine Pavilion 2017, Designed by Francis Kéré, Design Render, Interior ©Kéré Architecture

Kéré has positively embraced British climate in his design, creating a structure that engages with the ever-changing London weather in creative ways. The Pavilion has four separate entry points with an open air courtyard in the centre, where visitors can sit and relax during sunny days. In the case of rain, an oculus funnels any water that collects on the roof into a spectacular waterfall effect, before it is evacuated through a drainage system in the floor for later use in irrigating the park. Both the roof and wall system are made from wood. By day, they act as solar shading, creating pools of dappled shadows. By night, the walls become a source of illumination as small perforations twinkle with the movement and activity from inside.

Duitsland, Deutschland, Germany, Berlin, Berlijn, 22.1.2017. Architekt Francis Kéré. Foto: Erik-Jan Ouwerkerk

Duitsland, Deutschland, Germany, Berlin, Berlijn, 22.1.2017. Architekt Francis Kéré.
Foto: Erik-Jan Ouwerkerk

As an architect, Kéré is committed to socially engaged and ecological design in his practice, as evidenced by his award-winning primary school in Burkina Faso, pioneering solo museum shows in Munich and Philadelphia, and his immersive installation in the 2014 exhibition Sensing Spaces at London’s Royal Academy.

Gando Primary School Extension; Gando, Burkina Faso, 2008 © Erik Jan Ouwerkerk

Gando Primary School Extension; Gando, Burkina Faso, 2008 © Erik Jan Ouwerkerk

Building on these ideas, Kéré’s Serpentine Pavilion will host a programme of events exploring questions of community and rights to the city, as well as the continuation of Park Nights, the Serpentine’s public performance series, supported by COS. Now in its third year, Build Your Own Pavilion, the digital platform and nationwide architecture campaign supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, will invite young people to consider the relationship between architecture and public space, to ask critical questions about the future of their cities and to design the cities in which they would like to live.

Gando Primary School; Gando, Burkina Faso, 2001 © Enrico Cano

Gando Primary School; Gando, Burkina Faso, 2001 © Enrico Cano

Kéré’s design follows Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), whose ‘unzipped wall’ structure was visited by more than 250,000 people in 2016, making it one of the most visited Pavilions to date. Four commissioned Summer Houses in 2016 by Kunlé Adeyemi – NLÉ (Amsterdam/Lagos), Barkow Leibinger (Berlin/New York), Yona Friedman (Paris) and Asif Khan (London), attracted almost 160,000 visitors.

 Diébédo Francis Kéré, architect of the 17th Serpentine Pavilion, said: “As an architect, it is an honour to work in such a grand park, especially knowing the long history of how the gardens evolved and changed into what we see today. Every path and tree, and even the Serpentine lake, were all carefully designed. I am fascinated by how this artificial landscape offered a new way for people in the city to experience nature. In Burkina Faso, I am accustomed to being confronted with climate and natural landscape as a harsh reality. For this reason, I was interested in how my contribution to this Royal Park could not only enhance the visitor’s experience of nature, but also provoke a new way for people to connect with each other.” 

Serpentine Galleries CEO, Yana Peel, and Artistic Director, Hans Ulrich Obrist, said: “We are thrilled to reveal the designs for Francis Kéré’s Pavilion, which highlight the power of simplicity by reducing architecture to its core elements, modelled in harmony with the natural context of Royal Kensington Gardens. This Pavilion will be a space of conversation, collaboration and exchange. We share Kéré’s belief that architecture, at its best, can enhance our collective creativity and push people to take the future into their own hands.”

www.serpentinegalleries.org


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