Work / Architecture

Serpentine appoints Francis Kéré to build “tree-inspired” 2017 pavilion


Francis Kéré: Serpentine Pavilion 2017, Exterior (©Kéré Architecture)

Diébédo Francis Kéré founder of Berlin-based Kéré Architecture, has been appointed as the 17th architect to design the temporary pavilion in the grounds of the Serpentine Gallery in London. Francis, from Gando, Burkina Faso, was appointed by Serpentine artistic director Hans Ulrich Obrist and CEO Yana Peel along with advisors David Adjaye and Richard Rogers.

“Inspired by the tree that serves as a central meeting point for life in his home town of Gando, Francis Kéré has designed a responsive pavilion that seeks to connect its visitors to nature – and each other,” says the gallery. “An expansive roof, supported by a central steel framework, mimics a tree’s canopy, allowing air to circulate freely while offering shelter against London rain and summer heat.”

Francis’ work is committed to socially engaged and ecological design in his practice, evident in his award-winning primary school in Burkina Faso, solo shows in Munich and Philadelphia and his installation as part of the 2014 exhibition at the Royal Academy, Sensing Spaces.

“As an architect, it is an honour to work in such a grand park, especially knowing the history of how the gardens evolved and changed into what we see today. Every path and tree, even the Serpentine lake, were carefully designed,” says Francis. “I am fascinated by how this artificial landscape offered a new way for people in the city to experience nature. 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.”

The architect follows in the footsteps of the likes of BIG, OMA, Peter Zumthor and Herzog and de Meuron in accepting the commission.


Francis Kéré: Serpentine Pavilion 2017, Interior (©Kéré Architecture)


Francis Kéré: Camper Pop-up Shop at Vitra; Weil am Rhein, Germany, 2015 (©Vitra)


Francis Kéré: Gando Primary School; Gando, Burkina Faso, 2001 (© Simeon Duchoud)


Francis Kéré (© Erik Jan Ouwerkerk)