“I believe that architecture has the power to surprise, unite and inspire, all while mediating important aspects such as community, ecology and economy.”
– Diébédo Francis Kéré
Brilliant sunshine complimented this perfect Tuesday morning, the Serpentine Pavilion was finally opened to the press. The welcoming and majestic tree-inspired structure designed by the Burkinabé architect Diébédo Francis Kéré is a 300-square-metre open space built to encourage the encounter between humans and nature and among people; a safe space in times of fear and distress, a warm but breezy reminder of our connections, both to our city and to each other.
Every summer the Serpentine invites an internationally renowned architect to create a new structure. The selection, made by Serpentine Artistic Director Hans Ulrich Obrist and CEO Yana Peel, together with the advisors David Adjaye and Richard Rogers, aims to develop an international site for architectural experimentation by choosing architects who constantly challenge boundaries and practices.
For this years project Francis Kéré combined his powerful African heritage and traditions and the experience gained while studying and working in Germany to create a gathering space made of local and eco-friendly materials. With a keen eye on the specificity of a metropolis like London and its ever-changing weather, the architect created a structure that plays with light and wind, able to gather the rain and regenerate the nearby parkland.
Inspired by the trees that serve as a central meeting point for life in his native village, Gando, the architect conceived the Pavilion as a safe space of meeting and gathering.
The Pavilion is an open space with four different entry points and an expansive roof that allow visitors to move freely through its simple but welcoming courtyard and find solace from the scorching sun during the day, and at the same time it plays with light and shadows during the night. Through his work, and following his interest in storytelling and social issues, Kéré projected his structure to favour human interactions and exchange of skills and experience.
Image credit: Serpentine Pavilion 2017, designed by Francis Kéré © Kéré Architecture, Photography © 2017 Iwan Baan
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