Burkino Faso-born and Berlin-based architect Diébédo Francis Kéré has been tapped to design the 2017 Serpentine Pavilion at London’s Serpentine Galleries.
Recent winners have included Chilean architect Smiljan Radic (2014), Madrid-based SelgasCano (2015) and Bjarke Ingels (2016). In a first, last year’s show not only featured Ingels’ pavilion, but four other structures as well, by Kunlé Adeyemi, Asif Khan, Barkow Leibinger, and Yona Friedman.
Serpentine Artistic Director, Hans Ulrich Obrist, and CEO Yana Peel, along with advisors David Adjaye and Richard Rogers, chose Kéré, who works extensively across Europe, Africa, and his hometown of Gando. In the U.S., his work was most recently the focus of an exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
His design for the 2017 Serpentine Pavilion aims to be a gathering space that connects people to each other and nature. Its sheltering steel canopy was, according to the Serpentine Galleries, “inspired by the tree that serves as a central meeting point for life in his hometown of Gando…” And while the pavilion will shade from the summer sun, it’s prepared for more inclement weather as well: “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 the Pavilion’s walls will be constructed from wood, though the latter will come in the form of prefabricated triangular blocks.
In a time of rising xenophobia and climate change, Kéré’s pavilion aims to send a message of inclusion and sustainability. In his statement, the architect said:
The proposed design for the 2017 Serpentine Pavilion is conceived as a micro cosmos—a community structure within Kensington Gardens that fuses cultural references of my home country Burkina Faso with experimental construction techniques. My experience of growing up in a remote desert village has instilled a strong awareness of the social, sustainable, and cultural implications of design. I believe that architecture has the power to, surprise, unite, and inspire all while mediating important aspects such as community, ecology and economy.
To read the rest of Kéré’s statement and learn more about the pavilion, see the Serpentine Gallery’s website here. The pavilion will be on view from June 23rd to October 8th, 2017.