African-born Diébédo Francis Kéré unveils tree-themed structure for summer festivities

Berlin-based architect Diébédo Francis Kéré has been chosen to design this year’s Serpentine Pavillion, which will take pride of place in London’s Kensington Gardens over the summer months.

The Kéré Architecture principal, who was born in the west African country of Burkina Faso, becomes the latest architect invited to construct a pavilion since the programme began in 2000.

Francis Kéré said his design was inspired by the tree that serves as the central meeting point in his hometown of Gando, where the architect built a primary school that won the 2004 Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

His design features an expansive wooden roof supported by a central steel framework with wood walls, and aims to offer shade on sunny days as well as protection from the rain.

The Serpentine Galllery said the structure’s oculus would funnel rainwater from the roof to create a “spectacular” waterfall effect, before it was collected to irrigate the surrounding park.


Serpentine Pavilion 2017

Source: Kéré Architecture

Interior of the 2017 Serpentine Pavilion, designed by Francis Kéré


Francis Kéré said the Serpentine Gallery’s surroundings had all been carefully designed and that he was “fascinated” by how the artificial landscape of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens had offered a new way for Londoners to experience nature.

“In Burkina Faso, I am accustomed to being confronted with climate and natural landscape as a harsh reality,” he said.

“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.”

Francis Kéré ‘s selection for the 2017 pavilion follows Bjarke Ingels Group’s “unzipped wall” structure, which was visited by 250,000 people in 2016.

Other previous pavilion architects include Zaha Hadid, Oscar Niemeyer, Frank Gehry and Herzog & de Meuron with Ai Weiwei.

The architect was chosen for the pavilion by a panel including Serpentine artistic director Hans Ulrich Orbist, chief executive Yana Peel, along with architects Richard Rogers and David Adjaye.

This year’s pavilion commission is the first not to be overseen by programme founder Julia Peyton-Jones, who stepped down as gallery director in 2016.