I try to make visiting the Serpentine Pavilion a yearly appointment. It is so interesting to see what architects do with the same brief. Diébédo Francis Kéré, the award-winning architect from Gando, Burkino Faso, has been commissioned to design the Serpentine Pavilion 2017. As an architect, Kéré is committed to socially engaged and ecological design in his practice.
Serpentine Pavilion 2017, designed by Francis Kéré. Serpentine Gallery, London (23 June – 8 October 2017) © Kéré Architecture, Photography © 2017 Iwan Baan
Inspired by the tree that serves as a central meeting point for life in his home town of Gando, Francis Kéré has designed a responsive Pavilion that seeks to connect its visitors to nature – and each other. An expansive roof, supported by a central steel framework, mimics a tree’s canopy, allowing air to circulate freely while offering shelter against London rain and summer heat.
Kéré has positively embraced British climate in his design, creating a structure that engages with the ever-changing London weather in creative ways. The Pavilion has four separate entry points with an open air courtyard in the centre, where visitors can sit and relax during sunny days. 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 wall system are made from wood. By day, they act as solar shading, creating pools of dappled shadows. By night, the walls become a source of illumination as small perforations twinkle with the movement and activity from inside.
The annual Serpentine Pavilion commission has become an international site for architectural experimentation, presenting projects by some of the world's greatest architects, from Zaha Hadid in 2000 to Bjarke Ingels Group in 2016. The brief is to design a 300-square-metre Pavilion that is used as a community hub and café by day and a forum for learning, debate and entertainment at night.
Serpentine Pavilion 2017
Free entrance, until 8 October 2017