Serpentine Pavilion 2017, Designed by Francis Kéré, Design Render, Exterior
©Kéré Architecture Serpentine Pavilion 2017, Designed by Francis Kéré, Design Render, Exterior

Francis Kéré, Hon. FAIA, has been invited to design the 2017 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in London. The proposal for the pavilion features an inverted wooden cone supported by a steel, tree-like structure that is surrounded by a circular wall of blue wooden blocks. The Berlin–based architect, who founded his firm Kéré Architecture in 1998 while he was still a student at the Technical University of Berlin (Technische Universität Berlin), is the first African architect to be commissioned for the annual summer installation in Kensington Gardens.

Now in its 17th year, the gallery selected Kéré because he designs structures that promote social engagement and benefit the environment. The winning concept was inspired by a tree in his native Gando, Burkina Faso, which served as a central meeting place for the community. The pavilion mimics the shape of that tree's canopy, and welcomes visitors through four different entry points in the exterior wall. Visitors are encouraged to sit in the open-air courtyard at the pavilion's center.

Serpentine Pavilion 2017, Designed by Francis Kéré, Design Render, Interior
©Kéré Architecture Serpentine Pavilion 2017, Designed by Francis Kéré, Design Render, Interior

To highlight the fundamental natural resource, Kéré’s structure incorporates a system that collects rain water, funneling it through the inverted cone and forming a waterfall in the central courtyard through an opening in the base. The water will flow into a drainage system in the ground and be used for irrigation in the 17th century park.

“As an architect, it is an honor to work in such a grand park, especially knowing the long history of how the gardens evolved and changed into what we see today,” Kéré states in a press release. “In Burkina Faso, I am accustomed to being confronted with climate and natural landscape as a harsh reality. 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.”

Artistic director of the Serpentine Galleries Hans Ulrich Obrist, along with chief executive officer Yana Peel, and advisors David Adjaye, Hon. FAIA, and Richard Rogers, Hon. FAIA, collectively chose the award-winning architect, who has received such accolades as an Aga Khan Award, and served a professorship at Harvard's Graduate School of Design.

Kéré follows other award-winning firms and designers that have designed the pavilion in previous years including Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) in 2016; SelgasCano in 2015; Smiljan Radic in 2014; Sou Fujimoto in 2013; and Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei in 2012.