The 20th Serpentine Pavilion is designed by Johannesburg-based practice Counterspace, directed by Sumayya Vally.
Vally is a TIME100 Next List honoree as well as the youngest architect to be commissioned for the 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 new £100,000 fellowship programme to support artists, Support Structures for Support Structures, is being announced on the occasion of the 20th Pavilion to create a legacy for this unique commission and signal a new chapter in the commission’s history.
For the first time the commission will also extend outside the park, with four fragments installed in locations across London to support and facilitate gatherings and impromptu interactions and honour places that have held communities over time.
The partners hosting these fragments are: New Beacon Books in Finsbury Park, one of the first Black publishers and booksellers in the UK; multi-purpose venue and community hub The Tabernacle in Notting Hill; arts centre The Albany in Deptford; and the new Becontree Forever Arts and Culture Hub at Valence Library in Barking and Dagenham, which was established this year to commemorate the centenary of the UK’s largest council housing estate.
A specially commissioned 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.
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.”
Serpentine Pavilion 2021 designed by Counterspace, Interior View © Counterspace, photo: Iwan Baan