Counterspace to design the Serpentine Pavilion 2020



Museums, Pavilions,

Serpentine Pavilion,

The firm that will design the new Serpentine Pavilion, the temporary structure that every year hosts the summer programming of the Serpentine Galleries in London's Kensington Gardens, was announced on February 10. The firm selected is the Counterspace architecture studio based in Johannesburg (South Africa), led by architects Sumayya Vally, Sarah de Villiers and Amina Kaskar and, as per tradition, the pavilion will be their first work in the United Kingdom.

Counterspace to design the Serpentine Pavilion 2020

20 years after the first Serpentine Pavilion designed by Zaha Hadid opened its doors, an all-woman team will design the new temporary structure which, from June 11 to October 11, 2020 will host the summer program of London’s Serpentine Galleries. On February 10, London’s famous institution announced the names of this year’s pavilion designers, confirming the trend that marked the past few years: that of entrusting the Serpentine Pavilion project to new and young promises of the international architecture stage.
After Japanese architect Junya Ishigami, designer of the 2019 edition and Mexican architect Frida Escobedo, author of the temporary pavilion for the 2018 edition, the prestigious parterre of international architects who have put their name to the Serpentine Pavilion will be joined by Sumayya Vally, Sarah de Villiers and Amina Kaskar, young founders of the Counterspace architecture studio based in Johannesburg, South Africa. As per tradition, the Serpentine Pavilion will be their first work completed in the UK.

In a year marked by political “divisions”, such as the recent Brexit, the Serpentine Galleries pavilion in London instead becomes the bearer of an international dialogue, a place of debate and new ideas, both when it comes to the events planned, as well as concepts based on which the architectural structure is inspired. During the summer, the pavilion will host the Serpentine’s important and rather ambitious multi-platform project entitled Back to Earth. The aim is to explore a number of questions falling within the contemporary architectural debate on climate change. The project sets out to explore questions such as: "how can architecture create a space where we are all linked, not ranked?", "how can architecture promote wellbeing?" and "can a structure evolve and change together with the environment?". In parallel, the pavilion itself will be conceived as an event, representing a coming-together of a variety of forms inspired by other parts of the city.
Architect Sumayya Vally, the project leader, explained that the pavilion will be built relying both on innovative and traditional construction techniques, through a process of addition, superimposition, subtraction and splicing of architectural forms. Forms of relevance for migrant communities or for other peripheral communities in London. These forms will serve as the footprints of some of the places, spaces or artefacts that are part of London’s memory and identity: Brixton, Hoxton, Hackney, Whitechapel, Edgware Road, Peckham, Ealing, North Kensington and others. The pavilion will include movable parts that will be relocated to different neighbourhoods across the city. During the summer, following local events at these various locations, the parts will make their way back to Kensington Gardens, to complete the Serpentine Pavilion structure. The pavilion will therefore consist of different materials, taking advantage of the various approaches to sustainability, both low-tech and high-tech. Shades and distinctions of colour or texture will immediately highlight the reconstruction of the pavilion, making it understandable to visitors. London’s diverse places of memory and care will thus come to be inter-related, becoming part of the Serpentine Pavilion and creating spaces for spending time together.

(Agnese Bifulco)

Project: Serpentine Pavilion 2020
Design: Counterspace ( Sumayya Vally, Sarah de Villiers and Amina Kaskar) https://counterspace-studio.com/
Location: London, UK
Date: June 11 – October 11, 2020

Images courtesy of Serpentine Galleries © Counterspace

01. Serpentine Pavilion 2020 designed by Counterspace, Design Render, Exterior View © Counterspace
02. Amina Kaskar, Sumayya Vally and Sarah de Villiers of Counterspace. Photographed by Justice Mukheli in Johannesburg, 2020. © Counterspace
03. Serpentine Pavilion 2020 designed by Counterspace, Design Render, Interior View © Counterspace


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