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Friday, 28 July 2017


I recently made my way to London to see this year’s Serpentine Pavilion. I’ve visited the last couple of Pavilions as I mentioned in the previous one I reviewed, it’s clearly something that has been installed in me ever since my uni days where I first learnt about the program. We were always encouraged to visit and analyze the space. Also it is interesting to see the architect/designers scheme for temporary public spaces.

This year, architect Diébédo Francis Kéré has been commissioned to design the pavilion that resides in front of the Serpentine Galleries in South Kensington. The Serpentine Pavilion started back in the year 2000. It is a temporary space that a designer is commissioned to create for the public to use throughout the British summertime.

Before visiting the space I purposely avoided reading too much about the Pavilion in interviews and reviews online until after my visit. That way I can take it in for what it is and make an honest judgment from my own experience.

To change the approach ever so slightly, this blog post is a part of Design Blogger Competition organized by CGTrader who ask the question “Designing for the future: what are the trends we need to consider now?” I thought I would respond to this question with the elements of design I’ve taken into consideration thereafter my visit to the seventeenth Serpentine Pavilion by award winning architect Diébédo Francis Kéré. I hope you can learn something from this post.

Walking towards the Pavilion nobody can miss the rich indigo blue colour that surrounds the central structured oversized canopy.  I was not sure why the carefully staggered yet stacked blocks of wood, were stained blue, however I was sure there was a motive behind it.  I later learnt that the indigo blue colour symbolizes ‘celebration’ in the culture of certain ethnic groups in Gando, Burkina Faso, the country in West Africa that architect Kéré originates from. He explains in his press release that the people of Gando will traditionally wear this colour in celebration and in attendance of important occasions and ceremonies.

I tried to walk around the exterior of the pavilion before entering the space but the first passageway I saw lured me in. Inside, the interior involved two areas. An outer circle where most members of the public circulate on the inside walls of the protruding indigo blue facades which curve in a circular motion before its interrupted by another passage way. The second is the inner circle that is created in a stem rooted style with the steel structured framework that stands firmly in the midpoint holding the timber roofing that wondrously creates an elevated zone.

Within this open-air circumference in the center of the space that attracts the most natural lighting, were a few fixed seated blocks adding another dimension to the space.

 I commend how the architect has created a multipurpose space in the same build. For example, the two separated spaces within the interior, to the material matching seat benches on both the assembled façade and interior of the blue stained partitioning walls. Diébédo displays the integrity of being resourceful with the use of one main material that is wood.

Wooden shading elements line the underside of the roof to create a dynamic shadow.”- Diébédo Francis Kéré.

It is not until you are in the space that you realize, every gap between each material used to create the shelter has been strategically thought through.  As I looked above and observed the detailed paneling of the over hanging canopy, the voids between the material that creates a shelter replicated the idea of the spaces between the leaves that filter light when standing beneath a tree looking up above.  The idea of feeling exposed yet protected at the very same time. That is when Kere’s concept of people gather under the tree suddenly clicked into place in my mind.  Simple but it works. The space allows sunlight to enter whilst also protecting it from the water.  Just as I was about to leave the temporary summer pavilion it began to rain, I then saw the design of the roof that “becomes a funnel channeling water into the heart of the structure” live in action as the rain falls off the slanted translucent material in a waterfall effect.  Nature doing what it does best, nurturing the space and its people.

 The way Diébédo Francis has entwined nature and the people with his creation leads me to believe that his own journey, upbringing and memories have been heavily influenced by the two factors I consider to be trends when designing. That is nature and the community. The pavilion is able to serve its purpose as a meeting point in whatever weather condition. Kéré makes it no secret that the aim behind the pavilion is for the visitors to have not only human interaction with one another yet to also have an immediate connection to nature and our everyday surroundings.

Kéré explains how the sentimental aspects of a Tree were the source of inspiration. I his native town of Gando, the tree is the center point and gathering space for everyone in the community. I admire how Kéré has subtly reproduced the notion of a tree and transported his experiences of his life in his hometown in Gando, Burkino Faso here in London.

So what do we as designers, as people need to take into consideration when designing for the future? Kéré has broken it down for us, or do I speak for myself when I say his recent work has made my answer to the question crystal clear? Ask yourself, What are the two things we have once you strip everything else society has to offer away? The answer is nature and community.

These factors should be at the forefront of all designers mind in the process of anything they are creating. 1. How is the design affecting nature and your environment? 2. What impact is has on a community?

These are the trends we need to consider now whilst designing for the future.
We are our best selves with these fundamentals. Two of the most underrated luxuries we are fortunate to have and inhabit.

1. Nature
2. Community

All Images by Yasmin Metz-Johnson

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