Diébédo Francis Kéré’s Serpentine Pavilion photographed by Jim Stephenson
Stephenson took the photographs at a press preview of the pavilion this morning, ahead of its official opening on 23 June.
The oval-shaped structure, designed by Berlin- and Burkina Faso-based Kéré, is defined by curving indigo-blue walls, a slatted timber roof and a poured-concrete base.
Kéré is the 17th architect to take on the annual commission for the pavilion, which is erected each summer outside the Serpentine Gallery in London’s Kensington Gardens.
His design is based on the idea of a tree as a place of shelter from the elements and as a gathering spot.
The walls of the pavilion are made up of batons of blue-stained wood, which are arranged to create triangular panels. A perforated pattern created by the gaps between each panel allows natural light to shine through the walls.
Overhead, a ring-shaped slatted-timber roof is tiled to direct rain down into a central courtyard, transforming it into a waterfall.
“It feels very solid and grounded without being heavy. From the renders, I had imagined it would be perfectly circular, but when you see it in person you realise it isn’t, and because of this the plan allows for a constantly changing view,” Stephenson told Dezeen.
Stephenson captured the pavilion on the opening morning – assisted by Swedish photographer Kristina Salgvik – but has also been shooting it throughout the construction.
“Every step reveals something different – as a photographer it’s a very generous building,” Stephenson told Dezeen.
“During construction I had the chance to see it with water flowing off the roof into the central courtyard and that’s a beautiful touch – a pavilion that has the potential to celebrate all elements of the British weather!”
The shots were taken using a Nikon D800E digital SLR camera throughout, in conjunction with a 24 millimetre PC-E tilt-shift lens to control perspective, and 50-millimetre and 105-millimetre prime fixed-focal lenses.
The photos include a shot of Kéré – dressed in a blue suit, to match the blue background of his pavilion – being interviewed by Cate St Hill of Blueprint magazine.
Stephenson can also be spotted in the photos, as can Dezeen’s Oliver Manzi.
Kéré explained the symbolism of the rich blue this morning, that in his village of Gando in Burkina Faso, young men traditionally dressed in the colour for first dates.
“In my culture blue is an important colour. For a young man when you’re going to meet the dream of your life for the first time, you wear the best clothes you have,” he said.
“What I wanted to do here, I wanted to present myself, my architecture, in blue – it is a great place, and if you have the chance to do something like I did here you come with your best colour, you show yourself from your best side. This is indigo blue.”
Kéré grew up in Gando before moving to Berlin to study architecture and engineering at the Technische Universität.
He was selected to design this year’s pavilion by Serpentine Galleries director Hans Obrist and CEO Yana Peel with the help of architects Richard Rogers and David Adjaye. He unveiled his initial plans for the pavilion back in February.
Kéré’s Serpentine Pavilion opens to the public from 23 June until 8 October 2017.