Counterspace to Design the 2020 Serpentine Pavilion in its 20th Year

Counterspace to Design the 2020 Serpentine Pavilion in its 20th Year

Counterspace, a practice based in Johannesburg, South Africa, has been selected to design the Serpentine Pavilion 2020. The youngest architects to be commissioned this internationally renowned program, Sumayya Vally, Sarah de Villiers, and Amina Kaskar, are an all-women team leading the collaborative architectural studio.

Celebrating its 50th anniversary and its 20th pavilion in 2020, The Serpentine has been a platform for emerging practitioners and internationally recognized artists. This year, more than ever, “the Serpentine Pavilion will be a place for debate and new ideas”, where people will explore questions like: how can architecture create a space where we are all linked, not ranked? How can architecture promote wellbeing? Can a structure evolve and change together with the environment?

Courtesy of Counterspace

Counterspace, invited to design the temporary Pavilion on the Serpentine Gallery’s lawn in Kensington Gardens, has developed a design based on “gathering spaces and community places around the city […] and extending a public program across London”. With a lot of their work focused on design solutions emerging from interdisciplinary approaches, the practice uses innovative and traditional building techniques to create a mix of low-tech and high-tech sustainable methods. In fact, the Pavilion will be constructed from a variety of materials, including custom K-Briq-modules and cork, made from 90% recycled construction and demolition waste.

The pavilion is itself conceived as an event — the coming together of a variety of forms from across London over the course of the Pavilion’s sojourn. These forms are imprints of some of the places, spaces and artefacts which have made care and sustenance part of London’s identity. The breaks, gradients and distinctions in color and texture between different parts of the Pavilion make this reconstruction and piecing together legible at a glance. As an object, experienced through movement, it has continuity and consistency, but difference and variation are embedded into the essential gesture at every turn. -- Sumayya Vally of Counterspace, lead architect on the project.

Courtesy of Counterspace

Regarding the shape itself, the pavilion’s design was generated “from a process of addition, superimposition, subtraction, and splicing of architectural forms, directly transcribed from existing spaces with particular relevance to migrant and other peripheral communities in London”. Actually, the intervention, open from 11 June to 11 October 2020, will include small mobile parts that will be moved following the events, in the different neighborhoods of London. Eventually, the parts will be returned to the structure, completing it over the summer.

We are thrilled to be working with Counterspace on our 20th Pavilion in our 50th anniversary year. The idea of working with different communities is very important for us and Counterspace’s proposal does this in a remarkable way; we were totally convinced by the social dimension of their practice. They bring an African perspective, an international perspective but they are working with locations and communities right here in London and their Pavilion design is inspired by that work. In everything the Serpentine does we want to make those connections between artists, architects and communities wherever they are. -- Hans Ulrich Obrist, Serpentine Galleries Artistic Director.

  • Serpentine Pavilion 2020 designed by Counterspace
  • Technical Advisor: David Glover
  • Engineering and all technical services: AECOM
  • Creative Services: Stage One
  • Goldman Sachs is the headline sponsor of the Serpentine Pavilion 2020

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Cite: Christele Harrouk. "Counterspace to Design the 2020 Serpentine Pavilion in its 20th Year" 10 Feb 2020. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

Courtesy of Counterspace


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