Taking inspiration from the great tree in his home town of Gando, Burkina Faso, where villagers often meet to reflect about the day, Francis Kéré’s 2017 Serpentine Pavilion design was based on creating this sense of community while connecting people with nature.
A great over-hanging roof canopy made of steel and a transparent skin covers the entire footprint of the Pavilion, allowing sunlight to enter the space while also protecting it from the rain. Wooden shading elements line the underside of the roof, creating a dynamic shadow effect that changes with the movement of the sun and clouds.
The wall system is comprised of prefabricated wooden blocks assembled into triangular modules with slight apertures, giving a lightness and transparency to the building enclosure. The composition of the curved walls is split into four fragments, allowing four unique access points to the Pavilion. Completely detached from the roof canopy, these elements allow both air and visitors to circulate freely throughout.
At the center of the Pavilion is a large opening in the canopy, creating an immediate connection to the sky. In times of rain, the roof becomes a funnel channelling water into the heart of the structure. This rain collection acts symbolically, highlighting water as a fundamental resource for human survival and prosperity.
In the evening, the canopy becomes a source of illumination. Wall perforations will give glimpses of movement and activity inside the pavilion to those outside. In this way the Pavilion becomes a beacon of light, a symbol of storytelling and togetherness.
STATUS: Open June 23 - October 8 2017
SITE: Kensington Gardens / London / UK
SIZE: 330 m²
CLIENT: Serpentine Galleries