The move into summer months in the city of London brings with it the opening of a new Serpentine Pavilion commission, the ongoing architectural program in Hyde Park which sees architects from around the globe submitting groundbreaking and adventurous designs for the museum’s temporary outdoor structure. Used as an open-air locale for talks, screenings, performances and other parts of the Serpentine’s summer programming, the pavilion is one of the enduring projects of the institution.
This year, The Serpentine has tapped Diébédo Francis Kéré for the program, an award-winning architect whose projects and ventures in his home country of Burkina Faso have mixed modular designs with an attentive understanding of the needs for public space, fluid movements through space, and perhaps most notably, environmental necessities. His project here is no different, erecting a massive awning over an open air courtyard, allowing multiple points of entry and exit, adapting the architect’s long engagement with the powerful heat and light of Burkina Faso to the space here. What’s more, the pavilion actually funnels rainwater through its roofing design, moving the reclaimed water into an irrigation system used for the nearby trees. The result is a work that both echoes his designs and environmental concerns elsewhere in the world, while offering new perspectives on the potential for architecture to deal with the contingencies caused by global climate change.
The space itself draws its spatial arrangements from the structure of a tree, a special place of meeting and community in Burkina Faso. “This combination of features promotes a sense of freedom and community,” said Kéré in a statement describing his vision. “In Burkina Faso, the tree is a place where people gather together, where everyday activities play out under the shade of its branches. I believe that architecture has the power to surprise, unite, and inspire all while mediating important aspects such as community, ecology, and economy.”
Kéré currently lives and works between Berlin and Gando. His Serpentine Pavilion will remain open throughout the summer, and will close in October.
— D. Creahan
Serpentine Pavilion 2017 [Design Website]
Serpentine pavilion 2017: a shimmering African canopy spreads out over Kensington Gardens [The Guardian]
Serpentine Pavilion 2017, review: Admirable precision from beguiling storyteller [Evening Standard]
Diébédo Francis Kéré’s Serpentine Pavilion Unveiled in London [Architectural Digest]
Francis Kéré’s 2017 Serpentine Pavilion opens in London’s Hyde Park [designboom]