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Serpentine Pavilion 2021

We know summer is really here with the inauguration of the Serpentine Pavilion. The Pavilion is a temporary installation commissioned by the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens, London. Its aim is to support and exhibit an architectural practice that has not completed a building in England at the time in which it is presented.

This year’s guest is Counterspace, a studio based in Johannesburg. Director of Counterspace, Sumayya Vally explains that the “design is based on past and present places of meeting, organising and belonging across several London neighbourhoods significant to diasporic and cross-cultural communities.”

After a year of self-isolation and lockdown, the concept and inspiration behind this pavilion feels stronger and more relevant than ever before. It has been a time for most that has pushed us to question and become more aware of our home, roots and priorities.

In a cosmopolitan city like London where we are constantly exposed to different cultures, the idea of paying homage “to existing and erased places that have held communities over time” is powerful and relevant.

The translation of the concept to the physical installation has been created through the use of different textures, as well as hues of pink, brown and black. Visually, it is interesting to see how the interaction between the spectator and the space results in different compositions depending on the angle of visualisation. This has been achieved through the interlocking of shapes and light.

The multiple layers created through the foreground, middle ground and background creates the narrative we have previously been introduced to. In the centre of the pavilion, smaller structures invite us to sit and gather around, experimenting with and creating different configurations.

Sumayya’s original idea was for the pavilion to be gradually dismantled and to disappear. However, the final idea evolved into the main pavilion and four other fixed but smaller installations around London. It is the first time that The Summer Pavilion has extended to outside the main Kensington Gardens area.

Personally, it feels almost as if it is a jigsaw puzzle. It would be interesting to extrapolate, deconstruct and work with the negative spaces in order to create new patterns and designs. We think it is a very inspiring installation! If you are in London, don’t miss the opportunity to go and visit it. This year marks the 20th exhibit with the youngest architect so far. The Serpentine Pavilion will be open until mid-October.

You can find out more here.

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