Burkina Faso-born architect Diébédo Francis Kéré has been selected as this year’s designer of the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion—making him the first African architect of the annual pavilion. Kéré, who leads the Berlin-based practice Kéré Architecture, unveiled preliminary designs of a pavilion strongly influenced by the rural vernacular of his home country. Designed to mimic the functions and form of a large tree, the temporary pavilion will be topped by a large wooden disc that offers shelter and will help collect rainwater.



2017 Serpentine Pavilion by Diébédo Francis Kéré, Diébédo Francis Kéré Serpentine, 2017 Serpentine Pavilion architect, rainwater collecting pavilion, Kensington Gardens pavilion, temporary pavilion architecture

Now in its 17th iteration, the annual Serpentine Pavilion commissions an international architect to build his or her first structure in London on the lawns of Kensington Gardens. Kéré draws from his experience in socially engaged and ecologically responsible design in his pavilion proposal that aims to connect visitors to nature, to Burkina Faso architecture, and with one another. The steel-framed pavilion is built mostly of wood and will be accessible via four separate entry points that lead to a central open-air courtyard.

Related: BIG selected to design the 2016 Serpentine Pavilion

2017 Serpentine Pavilion by Diébédo Francis Kéré, Diébédo Francis Kéré Serpentine, 2017 Serpentine Pavilion architect, rainwater collecting pavilion, Kensington Gardens pavilion, temporary pavilion architecture

Kéré wrote in his architect’s statement: “In Burkina Faso, the tree is a place where people gather together, where everyday activities play out under the shade of its branches. My design for the Serpentine Pavilion has a great over-hanging roof canopy made of steel and a transparent skin covering the structure, which allows sunlight to enter the space while also protecting it from the rain. Wooden shading elements line the underside of the roof to create a dynamic shadow effect on the interior spaces. This combination of features promotes a sense of freedom and community; like the shade of the tree branches, the Pavilion becomes a place where people can gather and share their daily experiences.”

2017 Serpentine Pavilion by Diébédo Francis Kéré, Diébédo Francis Kéré Serpentine, 2017 Serpentine Pavilion architect, rainwater collecting pavilion, Kensington Gardens pavilion, temporary pavilion architecture

The pavilion’s design promotes natural ventilation for cooling in the summer. An oculus funnels collected rainwater from the roof to create a “spectacular waterfall effect” before it drains into a tank for reuse as park irrigation. The 2017 Serpentine Pavilion will be open to the public from June 23 to October 8, 2017.

+ Serpentine Galleries

Images via Serpentine Galleries