Architect Diébédo Francis Kéré of Burkina Faso has unveiled his Serpentine Pavilion 2017 in London’s Kensington Gardens, which will be open to the public beginning on Friday.
Kéré, who heads up the Berlin-based Kéré Architecture firm, has designed the temporary structure based on influences drawn from Gondo, the village where he grew up. His is the 17th such summer installation in a series that showcases work by exceptional architects across the globe; Kéré’s own architectural works appear in countries including Burkina Faso, Mali, Mozambique, Togo and Sudan.
For this year, the architect based his design on communal life with a tree at its center. That experience growing up, of life with a village tree as a meeting space for everything from social gatherings to political debates to market days, inspired Kéré to create an oval structure made of wood blocks with a flared roof that extends like a canopy above its guests. The stunning result is a curved-wall pavilion that creates shelter but – like the tree – also is open to surrounding natural elements.
At the center, the canopy funnels rainwater from the roof into a central waterfall that then feeds a system to water nearby plants. The perforated wooden blocks that make up the walls are in blue because it’s the color of celebration, Kéré said, and that’s the same quality that explains the warm glow of the lighting at night.
The concept also inspired one of the Serpentine Pavilion events for this year: It will be home to a series of community picnics in the “Radical Kitchen” program focused on creating change in London.
Image: Kéré Architecture/Iwan Baan