The 20th Serpentine Pavilion, designed by Johannesburg-based practice Counterspace, directed by Sumayya Vally, will open on 11 June 2021. A TIME100 Next List honoree, Vally is the youngest architect to be commissioned for this internationally renowned architecture programme. The Serpentine Pavilion 2021 is being supported by Goldman Sachs for the seventh consecutive year.
The Pavilion design is based on past and present places of meeting, organising and belonging across London. The forms in the Pavilion are a result of abstracting, superimposing and splicing architectural elements, varying in scales of intimacy, from various locations, translating the shapes of London into the Pavilion structure in Kensington Gardens. A specially commissioned sound programme for the Pavilion, Listening to the City, will feature work by artists including Ain Bailey and Jay Bernard, connecting visitors to the stories and sounds of lost spaces across London.
The Pavilion references the architecture of places of worship, markets, restaurants, bookshops and local cultural institutions that are particularly relevant to migrant communities in neighborhoods such as Brixton, Hoxton, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Edgware Road, Barking and Dagenham, Peckham and Notting Hill, among others. During the summer, fragments of the Pavilion will be installed in neighbourhoods across the city, to support and facilitate gatherings and impromptu interactions, to honour the history of places which have held communities over time.
My practice, and this Pavilion, is centred around amplifying and collaborating with multiple and diverse voices from many different histories; with an interest in themes of identity, community, belonging and gathering.
Sumayya Vally of Counterspace said: “My practice, and this Pavilion, is centred around amplifying and collaborating with multiple and diverse voices from many different histories; with an interest in themes of identity, community, belonging and gathering. The past year has drawn these themes sharply into focus and has allowed me the space to reflect on the incredible generosity of the communities that have been integral to this Pavilion. This has given rise to several initiatives that extend the duration, scale and reach of the Pavilion beyond its physical lifespan. In a time of isolation, these initiatives have deepened the Pavilion’s intents toward sustained collaboration, and I am excited to continue this engagement with the Serpentine’s civic and education teams and our partners over the summer and beyond.”
Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director, and Bettina Korek, Chief Executive, Serpentine, said: “We look forward with great excitement to welcoming London to this remarkable space this June. Our deepest appreciation goes to Sumayya Vally and to all our supporters and contractors for their enduring commitment to the Serpentine Pavilion. The spirit of community that has carried us as an institution throughout such a challenging year is the same that we hope to enliven this project. Here’s to a new chapter.”
Counterspace is a Johannesburg-based collaborative architectural studio, directed by Sumayya Vally, founded in Johannesburg in 2015. Much of their work emerges from research and interdisciplinary arts-based projects, undertaking predominantly architectural projects, community engagement, exhibition and installation conceptualisation and urban research, design and intervention. Their work is concerned with inclusivity, otherness and future; and often intersects with other creative disciplines to form innovative approaches to design challenges.
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