The wood that inspired 2017's Serpentine Pavilion

Diébédo Francis Kéré says his pavilion draws from the trees of his African home town
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Serpentine Pavilion 2017 designed by Kéré Architecture, Design render © Kéré Architecture
Serpentine Pavilion 2017 designed by Kéré Architecture, Design render © Kéré Architecture

The arid West African village of Gando might lie a few thousand miles south of London’s Hyde Park, yet this year’s Serpentine Pavilion architect Diébédo Francis Kéré has found a common thread that connects his hometown to his 2017 folly.

The award-winning Burkina Faso architect has drawn inspiration from his village’s central tree, a communal, social meeting point which, in a remote desert settlement, Kéré says, instilled in him “a strong awareness of the social, sustainable, and cultural implications of design.”

 

Serpentine Pavilion 2017 designed by Kéré Architecture, Design render © Kéré Architecture
Serpentine Pavilion 2017 designed by Kéré Architecture, Design render © Kéré Architecture

Kéré’s pavilion, which will be open to the public 23 June 2017 to 8 Oct 2017, has a steel roof fitted with a transparent skin and wooden shading elements, which mimic a tree’s canopy. The walls are also built from prefabricated wooden blocks, arranged to allow ventilation, and also offer shade, as well as a sense of openness. The building’s central oculus will channel rainwater from the roof into a drainage system, which will be used to water the park.

 

Gando, Burkina Faso, 2000. Photograph Schulbausteine, courtesy of Wikipedia
Gando, Burkina Faso, 2000. Photograph Schulbausteine, courtesy of Wikipedia

Phaidon contributor and Serpentine artistic director Hans Ulrich Obrist picked Kéré, in conjunction with the gallery’s CEO Yana Peel, taking advice from the renownedBritish architects David Adjaye and Richard Rogers. In some senses it is a brave choice, as Kéré, although widely respected, hasn’t made his name building bombastic towers or sports arenas, but instead simpler, more socially and environmentally sensitive projects, which make innovative use of traditional materials.

 

 

Diébédo Francis Kéré. Photograph by Erik Jan Ouwerkerk. Image courtesy of the Serpentine
Diébédo Francis Kéré. Photograph by Erik Jan Ouwerkerk. Image courtesy of the Serpentine

You can read more about Kéré’s work in our books Brick, 10x10/3 and The Phaidon Atlas of 21st Century World Architecture. Meanwhile, for more on the way wood has been used in both old and new architecture check out our new book Wood in the store.


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