Art: Serpentine Pavilion

Outdoor Art


You could argue that it’s more architecture than art but regardless, the annual Serpentine Pavilion in London’s leafy Kensington Gardens is always a masterpiece.

Each year, the Serpentine Gallery – a light-filled space that’s currently showing Grayson Perry: The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever! – commissions an architecture studio to create a pavilion in its flower-filled grounds. Past efforts have included Sou Fujimoto’s cloud-like structure made from an intricate white lattice of steel poles, Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei’s cork-lined archaeological dig beneath a roof of water, and Bjarke Ingels’ “unzipped wall” of fibreglass blocks.

This year’s pavilion comes courtesy of African architect Diébédo Francis Kéré and will be open and free to the public from 23 June. The stripped-back design will centre around a ring of steel trusses that reaches upwards and supports a wooden bowl-like roof of timber slats.

Kéré’s design was inspired by a tree in his hometown in Burkina Faso, which acts as a meeting point for the local community and provides shade from Africa’s scorching sun. In London it will, naturally, be more of an umbrella: when it rains, water will trickle through a central oculus in the roof, creating a waterfall effect.

Serpentine Pavilion, Kensington Gardens, London, W2 3XA.

23 June – 8 October 2017.

Photo: Serpentine Galleries.

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