Serpentine Pavilion 2017 designed by Francis Kéré

This year it was the turn of Berlin-based architect Diébédo Francis Kéré to present his Serpentine Pavillion for 2017 in the heart of London’s Kensington Gardens.

Kéré, who leads the Berlin-based practice Kéré Architecture, is the seventeenth architect to accept the Serpentine Galleries’ invitation to design a temporary Pavilion in its grounds. Since its launch in 2000, this annual commission of an international architect to build his or her first structure in London at the time of invitation has become one of the most anticipated events in the global cultural calendar and a leading visitor attraction during London’s summer season.

Serpentine Artistic Director Hans Ulrich Obrist and CEO Yana Peel made their selection of the architect, with advisors David Adjaye and Richard Rogers.

Kéré’s oval-shaped structure features a courtyard enclosed by curving walls made from stacked wooden blocks, sheltered by a large, slatted timber roof. The form of the canopy is informed by a tree in the village of Gando in Burkina Faso, where Kéré grew up.

“The pavilion that I was commission to do is inspired by a tree. Where I come from in Burkina Faso, a tree is often a public space. It can be a children’s nursery, it can be a market, a gathering place for everyone.”

“In Burkina Faso there is no electricity. At night it is dark. So what happens often is that young people go to elevated points to look around and if there is light, everyone goes to that place. There will be a celebration.”

“That is what the pavilion will be at night – shining to attract the visitors to come and celebrate.” explains Kéré.

The intention was for this structure to also provide shelter whilst allowing visitors to experience the surrounding elements.

Kéré has positively embraced British climate in his design, creating a structure that engages with the ever-changing London weather in creative ways. The Pavilion has four separate entry points with an open air courtyard in the centre, where visitors can sit and relax during sunny days.

The inner area is enclosed by perforated wooden blocks that allow the air to circulate. The slatted timber roof is lined with translucent panels to keep the London rain out.

As the weather changes you can view this from the transparent roof above. Protection and good shelter were the two key elements to Kéré’s design.


The painted wood blocks that form the walls are this colour with a deep significance to the architect.

“Blue is so important in my culture,” Kéré reflects. “It is a colour of celebration.”

“If you had an important date in my village in pastimes, there was one piece of clothing everyone was going to ask for. So when I got the commission for the pavilion here in London I said: I am going to wear by best dress, my best colour, and it is blue.”

The Serpentine Pavilion is open from 23 Jun 2017 to 8 Oct 2017

Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, London, W2 3XA

Admission is free

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