Berlin-based African architect Diébédo Francis Kéré has been commissioned to design the 2017 Serpentine Pavilion in London’s Kensington Gardens. Kéré, who is from the village of Gando in Burkina Faso, is the first African architect to receive an invitation for the project.
This year’s pavilion takes its inspiration from a tree that serves as the central social hub in Gando. The pavilion’s supporting structure will be fabricated from steel, while the roof, made from wood, will be designed to look like the canopy of a tree. There will be four separate entry points that will allow visitors to wander easily throughout the open courtyard. An oculus on the building’s roof will funnel rainwater into a kind of splashing ornamental display before it is evacuated into a drainage system, also made from wood, for irrigating the park. The pavilion will continue to host its performance series, Park Nights, in addition to the Build Your Own Pavilion program, an architecture campaign funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies that “invite[s] young people to consider the relationship between architecture and public space.”
“As an architect, it is an honor to work in such a grand park, especially knowing the long history of how the gardens evolved and changed into what we see today,” said Kéré. “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.”