Serpentine Pavillion 2021

Sumayya Vally. Counterspace

“Melting pot spots inspire elegant vision” – The Times

“A whole city under one roof” – The Guardian

“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

The 20th Serpentine Pavilion is designed by Johannesburg-based practice Counterspace, directed by Sumayya Vally (b. 1990). A TIME100 Next List honouree, Vally is the youngest architect to be commissioned for this internationally renowned architecture programme.

The Pavilion’s design is based on past and present places of meeting, organising and belonging across several London neighbourhoods significant to diasporic and cross-cultural communities, including Brixton, Hoxton, Tower Hamlets, Edgware Road, Barking and Dagenham and Peckham, among others.

Responding to the historical erasure and scarcity of informal community spaces across the city, the Pavilion references and pays homage to existing and erased places that have held communities over time and continue to do so today. Among them are some of the first mosques built in the city, cooperative bookshops and cultural sites.

Built of reclaimed steel, cork and timber covered with micro-cement, the Pavilion’s varying textures, hues of pink and brown are drawn directly from the architecture of London and reference changes in quality of light.

This publication includes contributions by a number of artists, poets and writers including Siphokazi Jonas, Lesley Lokko, Courttia Newland, Ain Bailey and Imani Robinson and an interview between Sumayya Vally and Sir David Adjaye OBE, the project’s curator Natalia Grabowska and Serpentine Artistic Director Hans Ulrich Obrist.

The inclusion of archival and research images gives insight into the design process and brings together the many places and histories that inspired the design of the Pavilion.

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