Sarbalé Ke, “the House of Celebration” in Moore, a language spoken in parts of Burkina Faso, is a vibrant installation created for the art program of the 2019 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Inspired by the Burkinabè baobab tree, Sarbalé Ke explores its inner world. As the tree grows, its inside hollows and skylights develop throughout the central trunk. It is deeply valued as a community landmark and revered for its medicinal and nutritional uses. Continuing Francis Kéré’s exploration of the theme Village, the installation features 12 baobab tow-ers, reflecting on the material, texture and spatial layout of the architecture in his birthplace, Gando, Burkina Faso. At the installation’s center, the tallest baobab reaches a height of 19 meters, followed by one of 18 meters, then 17 meters. These three adjoin, forming Sarbalé Ke’s largest gathering space. Here, at the heart of the village, the baobab towers create space for visitors to flow through the trunks from all directions. This gives way to a light-filled, naturally ventilated and shaded interior, both evoking the wonder of daylight in the heart of a baobab while responding to the immediate need for shade in Coachella’s sweltering spring climate. At the same time, the layering of the various tower legs creates a forest of warm and cool shades for visitors to explore.
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