Summer kicks off at The Serpentine
The London Summer Season is traditionally marked by the opening of the Serpentine Pavilion in Hyde Park. With its glistening African canopy and a festival programme more jam-packed than in pervious years, this year’s Serpentine Season is set to be as glamorous as ever.
Since 2000, Kensington’s Serpentine Gallery has commissioned an architecture firm to dream up a temporary pavilion for its grounds. The Pavilion’s opening, and ensuing summer season, is a highlight of London’s busy summer art calendar.
Francis Kéré, who heads Berlin-based practice Kéré Architecture and is originally from Burkina Faso, west Africa, is the 17th architect to take on the commission; as in previous years this is Kéré’s first architectural structure to be erected in London.
In its simplicity, Kéré’s pavilion is a departure from the structures of recent years. Bark Ingels’ undulating pyramid of blocks that reflected an ‘unzipped wall’, and the fluorescent tentacles of Selgas Cano’s Pavilion could’t be further in design from Kéré’s sparing structure.
The futuristic baobab tree – a wooden disk atop a blue trunk – is intended to reference the central tree in Kéré’s home village, Gando, and seeks to connect its visitors to nature, and each other. It is an apt reflection of Kéré’s work and life in Africa, where his socially engaged and ecological design practice as earned him international recognition.
Quite simply the design is mesmerising, especially when the sun beats down. Surprisingly it becomes more and more entrancing the longer you spend in it. But the best thing about the pavilion is that it’s freely accessible to everyone. Visitors are invited to use the pavilion in different ways, with it providing shelter from the summer heat – or, of course, the rain, it’s the perfect spot to sit back and relax and enjoy the diverse range of activities on offer.
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