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First look at Francis Kéré’s 2017 Serpentine Pavilion

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The AJ can reveal the first photographs of this year’s Serpentine Pavilion which is currently under construction in London’s Kensington Gardens. Photography by Jim Stephenson

The temporary structure has been designed by German-trained, African-born architect Diébédo Francis Kéré - the 17th international architect chosen to build the annual landmark at the Serpentine Gallery.

This year’s pavilion, which officially opens next week, has been inspired by a tree and meeting place in Kéré’s home town of Gando in Burkina Faso. 

Kéré described his design as a ‘responsive’ structure that ‘seeks to connect its visitors to nature and each other’.

Serp6 jimstephenson 6 webres

Serp6 jimstephenson 6 webres

Supported by a central steel framework, the large roof mimics a tree canopy allowing air to circulate freely; while offering shelter against London’s rain and summer heat.

Kéré was chosen for the prestigious annual commission following a contest judged by, among others, Richard Rogers and David Adjaye. 

It was the first time the Serpentine has invited architects to compete for the installation. 

The decision to launch an invited competition was announced by the Serpentine last year as part of a ‘new chapter’ in its development, which will see its two galleries in Kensington Gardens jointly led by artistic director Hans-Ulrich Obrist and chief executive Yana Peel.

Kéré, who runs Berlin-based Kéré Architecture, is best known for his award-winning primary school in Burkina Faso (see AR 01.10.09) and three years ago featured in the exhibition Sensing Spaces at London’s Royal Academy.

The 2017 pavilion follows last year’s ‘unzipped wall’ structure by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), which was visited by more than 250,000 people.

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