Amina Kaskar, Sumayya Vally and Sarah de Villiers
Amina Kaskar, Sumayya Vally and Sarah de Villiers

Joburg-based architectural practice Counterspace will be designing this year’s Serpentine Pavilion in London.

This is a huge deal, not only for our creative and design communities but for SA too. Every year the pavilion is built on the lawn of the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens, and stands as a temporary structure for the English summer. It’s always designed by a different international, upcoming architect or architectural firm and gets loads of coverage by the world’s media, arty crowd and celebs.

Counterspace is the 20th practice to take on the project. The inaugural commission was by the late starchitect Zaha Hadid and subsequent pavilions have been designed by the likes of Danish designer Bjarke Ingels and Francis Kéré of Burkina Faso.

This is an important acknowledgement of Joburgers Sumayya Vally, Sarah de Villiers, and Amina Kaskar — the all-women team who are the directors of Counterspace. Not only are they a trio of proper women power but they’re also the youngest architects (they were all born in 1990) to take on the task.

In its announcement of the project, the Serpentine Gallery said: "The shapes of the pavilion are created 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."

It added that this year, the Serpentine Pavilion will be a place for conversation and ideas.

A live programme connecting to the gallery’s Back to Earth project will ask questions like "How can architecture create a space where we are all linked, not ranked?" and "How can architecture promote wellbeing?"

The pavilion will include moveable small parts that will be displaced to neighbourhoods across London. Following community events at these locations, the parts will be returned to the structure, completing it over the summer.

The pavilion will be open to the public from June 11 to October 11.

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