Young South African Architects to Design Serpentine Pavilion

The pavilion is itself conceived as an event — the coming together of a variety of forms from across London over the course of the Pavilion’s sojourn."

Serpentine Pavilion 2020 designed by Counterspace
Serpentine Pavilion 2020 designed by Counterspace

An all-female team of South African young architects has been selected to design the 2020 Serpentine Pavilion.

The team consist of Sumayya VallySarah de Villiers and Amina Kaskar of Counterspace, a Johannesburg-based architect firm. All three will be 30 years old in 2020.

The trio has just become the youngest ever to be commissioned to build the Serpentine Pavilion in Kensington Gardens, London.

The pavilion is scheduled to be open from June to October.

The trio wrote in a statement that using both innovative and traditional building techniques, Counterspace’s design will be based on gathering spaces and community places around the city, folding London in to the Pavilion structure in Kensington Gardens, and extending a public programme across London.

“The shapes of the Pavilion are created from a process of addition, superimposition, subtraction and splicing of architectural forms, directly transcribed from existing spaces with particular relevance to migrant and other peripheral communities in London.”

Serpentine Pavilion 2020 designed by Counterspace
Serpentine Pavilion 2020 designed by Counterspace

On its 20th anniversary, more than ever, the Serpentine Pavilion will be a place for debate and new ideas.

The Pavilion will include moveable small parts that will be displaced to neighbourhoods across London. Following community events at these locations, the parts will be returned to the structure, completing it over the summer.

Employing a mix of low-tech and high-tech approaches to sustainability, the Pavilion will be constructed from a variety of materials, including custom K-Briq-modules and cork provided by Amorim. K-Briqs are made from 90% recycled construction and demolition waste and are manufactured without firing, with a tenth of the carbon emissions of normal bricks

The lead architect on the project, Vally, said of the design: “The pavilion is itself conceived as an event — the coming together of a variety of forms from across London over the course of the Pavilions sojourn. These forms are imprints of some of the places, spaces and artefacts which have made care and sustenance part of Londons identity. The breaks, gradients and distinctions in colour and texture between different parts of the Pavilion make this reconstruction and piecing together legible at a glance.

“As an object, experienced through movement, it has continuity and consistency, but difference and variation are embedded into the essential gesture at every turn.”

The Serpentine Galleries comprises two galleries situated 5 minutes walk from each other on either side of The Serpentine Bridge in the heart of the Royal Park of Kensington Gardens in central London. Established in 1970, the Serpentine Gallery is now, together with the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, a leading arts institution showing emerging and established artists from around the world. Its annual summer Pavilion has become a site for international architectural experimentation.

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