Diébédo Francis Kéré Reveals Tree-Inspired Design for Serpentine Pavilion 2017
African architect Diébédo Francis Kéré has been selected to design this year’s Serpentine Pavilion, which is set to feature a roof that mimics a tree canopy and a central waterfall. Shuttling between his hometown of Gando, Burkino Faso, and an office in Berlin, Kéré will create the 17th edition of the annual pavilion commission, which is built every summer outside the Serpentine Gallery in London’s Kensington Gardens.
His design centers around an intricate steel framework that extends upwards to support an angular wooden roof modelled on a tree canopy — intended to reference the central tree in Gando – a meeting place for local residents.
The structure will also take on a different character by night when its wooden walls become a source of illumination.
“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,” Kéré said. “Every path and tree and even the Serpentine lake were all carefully designed.”
According to Yana Peel and Hans Ulrich Obrist, who lead both the Serpentine Gallery and the nearby Serpentine Sackler Gallery, Kéré’s pavilion will “highlight the power of simplicity by reducing architecture to its core elements”. “This pavilion will be a space for 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.”
Diébédo Francis Kéré has built his reputation on his socially driven and sustainable approach to architecture. As the first son of the head of his village, he was the only child allowed to attend school. Subsequently, his first major project as an architect was a primary school for the village, which he raised the money for himself. Kéré has since worked on several other projects in Burkina Faso and has also contributed to a number of major exhibitions, including Sensing Spaces at London’s Royal Academy and the Africa show at the Louisiana Museum in Copenhagen.
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