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2017 Serpentine Pavilion will be designed by Francis Kéré

He’s creating a tree to gather the community

tree-like pavilion
Serpentine Pavilion 2017, Designed by Francis Kéré, Design Render, Exterior ©Kéré Architecture
All images courtesy Serpentine Galleries
Francis Kéré, © Erik Jan Ouwerkerk

Every year since 2000, London’s Serpentine Galleries has chosen an international architect with no previous built work in the U.K. capital to design a temporary pavilion at Kensington Gardens, an event that has become quite the spectacle for design lovers. This year’s pick has just been announced and soon to join the ranks of Bjarke Ingels, Zaha Hadid, and more will be Diébédo Francis Kéré, the Burkino-Faso-born, Germany-based architect who’s been building his cred with everything from an award-winning primary school in his home country to a shelter for first-century ruins.

Known for simple designs featuring local materials and labor, Kéré is bringing a similarly pared-back sensibility to this commission. Kéré, the first Serpentine Pavilion designer from an African country, has conceived a tree-like canopy inspired by the traditions of his home town, Gando.

Serpentine Pavilion 2017, Designed by Francis Kéré, Design Render, Interior ©Kéré Architecture

“In Burkina Faso, the tree is a place where people gather together, where everyday activities play out under the shade of its branches,” Kéré writes in his design statement. For his pavilion design, the “tree” will be made of steel, wood, and a transparent skin, which will provide shelter while letting in sunlight and producing dynamic shadows.

Anticipating London’s rainier days, an oculus in the center of the structure will collect rainwater into a waterfall of sorts before it is drained for irrigating the park. The pavilion will also have a system of prefab wooden blocks, arranged with slight gaps to create varying points of entry. The installation will open this summer.

Below, a quick look at some of Kéré’s previous work.

Gando Primary School; Gando, Burkina Faso, 2001 © Simeon Duchoud
Gando Primary School Extension; Gando, Burkina Faso, 2008 © Erik Jan Ouwerkerk
National Park of Mali; Bamako, Mali, 2010, © Kéré Architecture
Camper Pop-up Shop at Vitra; Weil am Rhein, Germany, 2015 ©Vitra. Photography by Eduardo Perez