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serpentine pavilion, Francis Kere, London

Serpentine Pavilion 2017 by Francis Kéré

Diébédo Francis Kéré has designed the Serpentine Pavilion 2017. He is the seventeenth architect to place a temporary pavilion in Kensington Gardens. Since the project was launched in 2000, these pavilions have earned international attention. Hans Ulrich Obrist, the artistic director of the Serpentine, CEO Yana Peel and advisors David Adjaye and Richard Rogers chose Kéré as the responsible architect.

Kéré originally comes from Burkina Faso. His design concept is simple and vivid: the pavilion structure resembles a tree that becomes a central meeting point. Nature is present in an abstracted form. Beneath the jutting wooden roof, which is supported by a delicate steel frame, there is an airy interior space which flows into the outside space of the park. The pavilion has four entryways and an open inner courtyard at its centre. The roof – like a treetop – provides shelter from the rain and summer heat. For rainy weather (not so unusual here), Kéré is planning a spectacular drainage system. The rainwater will seep into the ground like a small waterfall and serve as additional irrigation for the trees in the park. In the daytime, the blue wooden walls let the sunlight in; at night, they transform into a source of light that lets the light shine from the inside out. As artistic director Hans Ulrich Obrist was quoted in the Guardian: “I almost hope it will rain. It has definitely been designed with British summers in mind.”

Kéré is known for the social approach in his works. Over the summer months, the Serpentine Pavilion 2017 will host a series of events. Among other happenings, the Radical Kitchen Talks will take place here at his request. These are community picnics aimed at the exchange of recipes for social change and better community living. The food will be prepared by Mazí Mas, a pop-up restaurant and social enterprise run by migrant women.

Furthermore, the Pavilion will serve as a platform for the Park Nights, a series of interdisciplinary works developed as responses to Kéré’s structure. Kéré told the Serpentine Pavilion: “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."

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