For some, the terracotta colour of the structure may evocate local villages in central Africa, others may find reference to antic Greece or to Cambodian temples. If the pavilion feels intimately related to your roots, you can also approach it from wherever you come from as there is no grand entrance. Once inside, you are invited to gather in small or big groups, sit on different shapes and engage in conversations.
It is a seducing and inclusive space designed by Sumayya Vally and her all-female Johannesburg based architectural firm, Counterspace.
'I was deeply inspired by various locations that have held community and have facilitated the construction of belonging for so many people in London. In particular, I was inspired by places where people come together to meet, to organise, to eat together or for worship' Sumayya told us.
You can watch our full interview with Sumayya on the Culture Whisper Instagram account.
She and her team spent a year working with different London communities, and the pavilion references the architecture of markets, places of worship, bookshops and local cultural institutions that are particularly significant to diaspora and cross-cultural communities.
The structure also puts the environment in the spotlight: it contains natural materials, such as cork, in addition to K-Briqs, which are made from recycled construction material. This year's structure has detachable parts, which will be moved to other sites across London, forming centrepieces for localised events. These sections will then be reunited with the main structure, an idea that is intended to highlight unity and inclusion.
The commission to design the temporary structure next to the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens is now in its twentieth year and forms a highlight of the architectural calendar. It is an experimental space, where designers can imagine new possibilities on an intimate scale.
Serpentine Galleries Artistic Director Han Ulrich Obrist says of the project: 'The idea of working with different communities is very important for us and Counterspace's proposal does this in a remarkable way; we are totally convinced of the social dimension of their practice.' Every year the pavilion provides the location for Park Nights, a series of talks, films and performances.
|What||Serpentine Pavilion, 2021|
|Where||Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, London, W2 3XA | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Knightsbridge (underground)|
11 Jun 21 – 11 Oct 21, 12:00 AM
|Website||Click here for more information|