Francis Kéré’s 2017 Serpentine Pavilion is now on display in Kensington Gardens, London. The design, which references a tree that serves as a central meeting point in the architect’s home town of Gando in Burkina Faso, is a responsive structure that seeks to connect visitors to both nature and each other. An expansive roof, supported by a central steel framework, mimics the tree’s canopy, allowing air to circulate freely while offering shelter from both rain and heat. Kéré was chosen by Serpentine Artistic Director Hans-Ulrich Obrist and CEO Yana Peel, along with advisors David Adjaye and Richard Rogers.

Francis Kéré, who leads Berlin-based practice Kéré Architecture, has positioned an open air courtyard at the center of the Serpentine Pavilion, accessed via four separate entry points. Rainwater is funneled from the roof to create a waterfall effect, before being evacuated through a drainage system in the floor for irrigation use. By day, the wooden roof and wall system acts as solar shading, while at night, the partitions become illuminated from within.

“As an architect, it is an honor to work in such a grand park, especially knowing the long history of how the gardens evolved and changed into what we see today,” says Francis Kéré. “Every path and tree, and even the Serpentine Lake, were all carefully designed. 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.”