On June 9, 2023, the Serpentine Galleries in London inaugurated "À table", the 22nd Pavilion created by French-Lebanese architect Lina Ghotmeh. A design which from its very name comes across as a direct and cheerful invitation: let's sit around the table together, share and meet in the same space.
Architect Lina Ghotmeh drew inspiration for the design from her Mediterranean roots, thinking about the lively discussions that often take place around the table, from current affairs to politics, from personal lives to dreams. This invitation in French encourages visitors to participate in dialogue, to come together and to reflect while sharing a meal.
Inside the Pavilion, a concentric table along the perimeter invites us to gather and sit down to share ideas, concerns, joys, dissatisfactions, responsibilities, cultural traditions, memories and stories that bring us together. The meaning of the Pavilion, however, extends beyond the concept of conviviality around the table. Ghotmeh considers food as an expression of care, and the design of the Pavilion is closely tied to this philosophy. It is a space to reflect on our relationship with the Earth, nature and the surrounding environment. In an era in which our connection with nature has often been compromised, "À table" becomes a call to rethink and strengthen our bond with the planet and to re-establish a more conscious relationship with the environment around us.
The Pavilion invites us to slow down, to gather together, to question our relationship with nature, trying to reintegrate and restore an often forgotten balance. It is a space for reflection on our impact on the environment and on the actions that we can take to build a more sustainable and Earth-friendly future.
Lina Ghotmeh describes her approach to architecture as an "Archaeology of the Future", and this Pavilion is a perfect example. Built predominantly with bio-based and low environmental impact materials, the new pavilion does not alter the soil and is easily dismantled and reassembled. A project that demonstrates the architect's commitment to sustainability and respect for the environment. The design, in fact, adapts to the shape of the Serpentine Galleries park's tree canopies and the architectural elements – such as the wooden beams that support the pleated roof, reminiscent of the structure of a palm leaf, or the central light well that allows the natural light to come in and flood the space – are inspired by nature. The pavilion is also a tribute on the architect's part to the history of the Serpentine South building, which was originally a teahouse, and recalls the "togunas", traditional structures from Mali, West Africa, used for community meetings.
Creating a space conducive to dialogue, to sharing and to reflection, this small architecture is a direct call to action, an invitation to gather around the same table to engage in dialogue and reflect on how to reintegrate and re-establish our relationship with nature and the Earth. The Serpentine Pavilion 2023 becomes a tool to promote environmental awareness and dialogue between people, in order to inspire significant changes towards a more sustainable and harmonious future with nature.
Images courtesy of Serpentine and Lisa Ghotmeh
All images: Serpentine Pavilion 2023 designed by Lina Ghotmeh. © Lina Ghotmeh — Architecture. Photo: Iwan Baan, Courtesy: Serpentine. (01-07)
Lina Ghotmeh by Harry Richards for Serpentine 2023 (08-09)
Serpentine Pavilion 2023 designed by Lina Ghotmeh — Architecture Built with Nature Ink, Pencil & Watercolour Sketch by © Lina Ghotmeh, Courtesy: Serpentine (10)