By Rowan Moore
Inspired by his roots in Burkina Faso, Kéré’s pavilion is a tree-like space in which to enjoy all weathers and ‘meet your dream’
“Architecture should give us oxygen,” says Hans Ulrich Obrist, artistic director and rainmaker-in-chief at the Serpentine Galleries in London. He cites a proposal by his hero, the late conceptual architect Cedric Price, for re-oxygenating Manhattan. He also thinks that oxygen is something that is offered at this year’s Serpentine Pavilion, by the Berlin-based architect Francis Kéré.
Kéré first became interested in building as a child, growing up in Burkina Faso, helping his uncle in the demoralising business of restoring mud-built buildings that degraded every year in the rains. He went to Berlin to study, where among other things he encountered the architecture of Mies van der Rohe, who is the first name that comes up when you ask him his inspirations. He studied and measured a little-known Mies-designed house in east Berlin and admired how it was “little but very powerful”. He liked the architect’s “rationality”.