South African architects Counterspace are youngest to be commissioned

Counterspace's Serpentine Pavilion_2020_Exterior day CGI

Source: Counterspace / Serpentine Galleries

Counterspace’s 2020 Serpentine Pavilion

Counterspace, a young South African practice, has been commissioned to design the 20th annual Serpentine Pavilion.

The Johannesburg-based outfit is directed by three women who were all born in 1990, making them the youngest-ever architects to receive the prestigious commission.

This year’s pavilion, designed by directors Sumayya Vally, Sarah de Villiers and Amina Kaskar, will attempt to engage with London well beyond the railings of Kensington Gardens.

Its design references gathering places around the capital, from Brixton to Hoxton, and will include small moveable parts that will be begin life in some of these neighbourhoods. The places were chosen because of their relevance to migrant and other peripheral communities.

Counterspace's Serpentine Pavilion_2020_Detail Interior CGI

Source: Counterspace / Serpentine Galleries

Counterspace’s 2020 Serpentine Pavilion: interior detail

Community events – part of the Serpentine Gallery’s live programme – will be staged in each location after which the pieces of the pavilion will be returned so the structure is gradually completed over the course of the summer.

It will be built using modern and traditional methods and from a variety of materials including cork provided by Amorim and custom K-Briq modules. Made from 90% recycled construction and demolition waste, K-briqs are manufactured without firing, meaning they produce a tenth of the carbon emissions of normal bricks.

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Counterspace’s Vally, lead architect on the project, said: “The pavilion is itself conceived as an event – the coming together of a variety of forms from across London over the course of the pavilion’s sojourn.

“These forms are imprints of some of the places, spaces and artefacts which have made care and sustenance part of London’s identity. The breaks, gradients and distinctions in colour and texture between different parts of the pavilion make this reconstruction and piecing together legible at a glance.

Counterspace studio

Source: Counterspace / Serpentine Galleries

Counterspace directors Sumayya Vally, Sarah de Villiers and Amina Kaskar

“As an object, experienced through movement, it has continuity and consistency, but difference and variation are embedded into the essential gesture at every turn.

“Places of memory and care in Brixton, Hoxton, Hackney, Whitechapel, Edgware Road, Peckham, Ealing, North Kensington and beyond are transferred on to the Serpentine lawn. Where they intersect, they produce spaces to be together.”

The 2020 Serpentine Pavilion will open on June 11 and run till October 11.