With Burkina Faso-born architect Diebedo Francis Kere submitting his design for the 2017 Serpentine Pavilion at London’s Hyde Park, he has become the first African architect to design the annual Serpentine Gallery Pavilion.
Kere’s design will be built this summer in London’s Kensington Gardens and will be comprised of an expansive roof supported by a steel frame, mimicking the canopy of a tree, reports ArchDaily.
The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion is a temporary building designed annually by a leading architect. To qualify, the architect or design team should not have completed a building in England at the time of the gallery’s invitation. Each pavilion is typically completed within a six-month period and ready by summer for the public to enjoy for another three-month period.
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Kere, 52, is a graduate of the Technical University of Berlin, where he studied Architecture. The son of a tribal chief, Kere was born in Gando, a rustic settlement 125 miles southeast of Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou.
Kere was the first person from his village to go to school.
He also received training as a carpenter, and by 18, won a scholarship to study woodwork in Germany, where he discovered his love for architecture and switched over from carpentry.
Most of his works have managed to successfully combine the Sahel environment, where he grew up and spent most of his early childhood, with the finesse of his architectural training.
According to Kere, his design for the Serpentine Pavilion was inspired by the trees that serve as the central meeting point for communal life in Gando, where he grew up, “In Burkina Faso, the tree is a place where people gather together, where everyday activities play out under the shade of its branches. My design for the Serpentine Pavilion has a great over-hanging roof canopy made of steel and a transparent skin covering the structure, which allows sunlight to enter the space while also protecting it from the rain.
“Wooden shading elements line the underside of the roof to create a dynamic shadow effect on the interior spaces. This combination of features promotes a sense of freedom and community; like the shade of the tree branches, the Pavilion becomes a place where people can gather and share their daily experiences.”
Kere, a tenured professor at Harvard, is mostly based in Berlin, Germany, where he runs the successful practice Kere Architecture with about 12 employees. He is also very involved in the developmental efforts taking place in his homeland.
In 1998, with the help of friends, Kere set up the charity Schulbausteine für Gando to help fund the construction of public school buildings in Burkina Faso using locally available materials and manpower with an ecologically sustainable approach.
Some of Kere’s other important works include the permanent exhibition space at the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum, Geneva, Switzerland; the Zhou Shan Harbour Development, China; and the National Park, Bamako, Mali. He is a winner of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture and the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture.