A canopy spreads out over Kensington Gardens


Francis Kéré’s Serpentine pavilion is now on display in London’s Kensington Gardens, inside the Hyde park, one of the biggest parks in Central London. He is the 17th. architect appointed to design the temporal pavilion for Serpentine Galleries that will be visited by more than 250,000 people -if it follows the success of Bjarke Ingel’s pavilion ‘unzipped wall’.

This year, the pavilion will host a program of events exploring questions of community and rights to the city, as well as the continuation of the serpentine’s public performance series.

The design pretends to connect visitors with the architecture; it represents a tree that serves as a central meeting point in the architect’s home town of Gando (Burkina Faso). A central steel framework supports the expansive roof imitating the tree’s canopy. This structure’s function is twofold as it allows air to circulate freely and offers shelter from both rain and heat.

Francis Kéré, who leads Berlin-based practice kéré architecture, has positioned an open air courtyard at the centre of the pavilion, accessed via four separate entry points. Rainwater is funnelled from the roof to create a waterfall effect, before being evacuated through a drainage system in the floor for irrigation use. By day, the wooden roof and wall system acts as solar shading, while at night, the partitions become illuminated from within.

‘As an architect, it is an honor to work in such a grand park, especially knowing the long history of how the gardens evolved and changed into what we see today,’ said  Francis Kéré. 


‘Every path and tree, and even the serpentine lake, were all carefully designed. I am fascinated by how this artificial landscape offered a new way for people in the city to experience nature. In Burkina Faso, I am accustomed to being confronted with climate and natural landscape as a harsh reality. For this reason, I was interested in how my contribution to this royal park could not only enhance the visitor’s experience of nature, but also provoke a new way for people to connect with each other.’

‘In my culture, blue is an important color to a young man, as well as for the girls, on a first date. I wanted to present myself, my architecture, in blue. it is a great place, and if you have the chance to do something like I have just done here, you always have to show your best side and this is indigo blue. by the way, the walls look like textile but, in fact, it is just wood. natural, traditional materials that we simply used to create this shape and its openness’.


The entry is open and free. The pavilion will remain on view from June 28 until October 8, 2017. Meanwhile, this is the video that explains the design process and conceptualisation.

Photo credits: © kéré architecture, photography © 2017 iwan baan & Designboom



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