Diébédo Francis Kéré designs tree-shaped Serpentine Pavilion
This year’s Serpentine Pavilion will be designed by African architect Diébédo Francis Kéré, featuring a roof that mimics a tree canopy as well as a waterfall created by rain.
Based in his hometown of Gando, Burkino Faso, with an office in Berlin, Kéré was selected by a team that included Richard Rogers and David Adjaye.
The 2017 Serpentine Pavilion is in its 17th edition, commissioned to an architect and built every summer outside the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens, London.
Kéré’s pavilion comprises of an intricate steel framework that extends upwards to support an angular “tree canopy” roof made up of wood. The roof is a reference to the central tree in Gando which has become a meeting place for the locals.
During sunny day, visitors can sit under the canopy for shade and admire the surrounding courtyard while on wet days, the roof structure will drain the water down an oculus which then creates a “spectacular waterfall effect”. The water then disappears into an underground drainage system, hidden from view.
“In Burkina Faso, I am accustomed to being confronted with climate and natural landscape as a harsh reality,” said Kéré.
“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.”
Kéré is known for his sustainable and socially-driven approach to architecture, which is being reflected in his focus on the rich history of the park itself, as well as the British climate.
“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,” he said. “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.”
At night, the wooden walls of the structure will become illuminated.
Yana Peel and Hans Ulrich Obrist, who lead the Serpentine Gallery, said Kéré’s pavilion will “highlight the power of simplicity by reducing architecture to its core elements”.
“This pavilion will be a space of conversation, collaboration and exchange,” they said. “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.”
Kéré’s first project as an architect was a primary school for his village, which he personally raised money for.
He has also worked on several other projects in Burkino Faso, as well as contributing to numerous exhibitions such as Sensing Spaces at London’s Royal Academy and the Africa show at the Louisiana Museum in Copenhagen.
Last year’s Serpentine Pavilion was designed by Bjarke Ingels, who created an “unzipped” wall design to create a three-dimensional space.
Ingles has also recently been involved in the Hyperloop project which is currently being planned for Dubai that will reduce travelling time between Dubai and Abu Dhabi to 12 minutes.