The Serpentine Pavilion.
The Serpentine Pavilion.
The 'orange-ish' wooden roof.
The 'orange-ish' wooden roof.
The openness of the inside.
The openness of the inside.
People enjoying the sun (and shade!) of the outside.
People enjoying the sun (and shade!) of the outside.

Serpentine Pavilion 2017, London

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Kids in Museums volunteer Martina Santangelo reviews the fascinating work of Diébédo Francis Kéré, which merges architecture and nature. 

Diébédo Francis Kéré is the award-winning architect from Gando, Burkina Faso and his strong belief in the educational power of architecture drove the design of Serpentine Pavilion 2017, which was inspired by the shape of a tree. 

The Serpentine Pavilion is a place where people meet and gather together in Burkina Faso. Kéré’s Pavilion brings to the heart of London a sense of freedom and community along with an immediate connection to nature, in such harmony with the surroundings of Kensington Gardens. Families – as a small community themselves – are naturally welcomed in this surprising microcosm, easily identified as a place to be for kids and young people.

A deep-blue circular wall is made by wooden blocks assembled in order to leave slight gaps between them so that it gives – along with the four different entry points – lightness, openness and air circulation to the building. The transparency of the orange-ish wooden roof generates a dynamic shadow effect inside, recreating the feeling of being under the shade of a big tree’s branches. In the centre of the Pavilion there’s an open-air courtyard where you can sit and relax with your children during the sunny days. Even on rainy days, you can watch the waterfall effect through the oculus that funnels water into the heart of the structure and allows the reuse of rainwater to irrigate the park. This is a great feature and a good cue to educate about ecological sustainability. The Pavilion’s structure gives shelter from the ever-changing London weather, always maintaining a visual connection to the sky.

This participatory community practice embraced by Kéré’s architecture inspired a public programme of events that will run in the Pavilion’s space all summer, including an exciting family, kids, and young people programme. Build your Own Pavilion is a digital platform and nationwide architecture campaign created for young people to design the cities in which they would like to live, inviting them to consider the relationship between architecture and public space and to get involved in critical issues about the future of their cities. This year Serpentine’s Architecture Family Pack is designed by the artist Katie Schwab to invite children and families to experience the Pavilion from a playful and original perspective.

Kéré explained how blue is an important colour in his culture, “For a young man when you’re going to meet the dream of your life for the first time, you wear the best clothes you have. And in past times there was only one piece of blue Boubou – the traditional clothes that people wear. You dress Blue, and you’re shining as you approach the house of your dream”.

If blue is the invisible becoming visible – as Yves Klein said – then what else can it be but a dream?
Serpentine Pavilion 2017 is open until 8 October 2017.

Admission: free.

One Response

  1. Anna Maria Panzera Says:

    Good review indeed! Thanks to Martina Santangelo for giving us a so kind description of this architecture. It reminds me what someone said: a pavilion is made to facilitate a unique, respecting human presence in the environment, but also to create a new texture: now it is very clear to me.

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