The Serpentine Galleries summer pavilion, designed this year by the African-born architect Francis Kéré, is heading to Malaysia. The structure has been bought by the Kuala Lumpur-based Ilham Gallery for an undisclosed sum. Kéré’s building is the 17th in the popular annual series of pavilions commissioned and built every summer in Kensington Gardens.
In a statement, Ilham gallery says that “it is delighted to announce that due to the generous donations by our philanthropic friends and supporters, it is now the proud owner of the Serpentine pavilion 2017”. The pavilion will be transported to Malaysia early next year and will be installed in a “public space for the enjoyment of the Malaysian public”. On its website, Ilham is described as a “public art gallery” with free admission; its creative director, Valentine Willie, is a former art dealer who ran five galleries across the region.
Kéré, born in Burkina Faso and now based in Berlin, is the first African architect to participate in the prestigious annual architecture programme in London. His tree-like, wooden pavilion takes its inspiration from the natural meeting point in Gando, his home village. “My experience of growing up in a remote desert village has instilled a strong awareness of the social, sustainable, and cultural implications of design,” Kéré says in a statement.
The Serpentine Pavilion launched in 2000 as a platform for major international names to build their first structures in the UK capital. Past pavilions have been designed by Zaha Hadid (2000), Frank Gehry (2008) and Sou Fujimoto (2013).
The former director Julia Peyton-Jones writes in the catalogue for Bjarke Ingels Group’s Pavilion in 2016 that a prerequisite for the realisation of the pavilions is that they are acquired following their presentation at the London gallery. “This vital aspect of their funding also determines that they will have a life after their time at the Serpentine,” the catalogue adds.
Hadid’s Pavilion is sited at Flambards Theme Park in Cornwall while Fujimoto's structure is on show in Tirana, Albania, courtesy of the Luma Foundation. The 2012 pavilion designed by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei is now in the collection of the steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal.