By Agence France-Presse
Burkina Faso’s Diebedo Francis Kere on Tuesday unveiled his temporary pavilion in London’s Hyde Park, becoming the first African architect to undertake the prestigious assignment given to a world-famous architect every year.
Kere’s Serpentine Pavilion comprises an indigo-blue structure with a latticed canopy, which is inspired by a tree in his hometown of Gando that serves as a central meeting point.
“In my village, during the hot day, everyone is gathering under the tree, you have the mothers, the fathers, the elders then the kids,” he said.
“I grew up listening to stories in my village and the blue, here indigo blue, a natural color, is so important to the culture.”
The expansive roof, supported by a central steel framework, mimics a tree’s canopy, allowing air to circulate while offering shelter against the London weather, he added.
“I wanted the visitor to come and discover this huge canopy and then go through these enclosing walls to have the light, to be able to see the clouds moving,” explained Berlin-based Kere.
“But at the same time, be protected against the rain and then to feel the element, to feel the wind going through the openings in the walls.”
The pavilion has a central courtyard that will become a waterfall when it rains.
It will be open until October 8, with Kere following previous architects including Zaha Hadid, Jean Nouvel and Frank Gehry, as well as Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei in undertaking the project.
“I was saying for my career that this will be the biggest celebration I will have,” said the architect.
“I hope that everyone will feel invited. I hope to have a great and inclusive summer.”
Kere has previously won plaudits for his project for a primary school in Burkina Faso and has held solo museum shows in Munich and Philadelphia.
He was also one of the architects behind Geneva’s International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum.
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