A slender wooden canopy will appear in Kensington Gardens next summer in London, its radial ribs supporting a wide, low canopy hanging under the trees. It’s the elegant vision of Lina Katmathe Lebanese-born Paris-based architect who has been announced as the pavilion designer of the 22nd Annual Serpentine Exhibition.
“It’s a little Mary Poppins,” said Katma, speaking from her studio in Paris. “I wanted to create an open and inviting sanctuary, a place to sit, eat and talk together in nature, and rethink our relationship to each other and to the living world.”
titled table – the French invitation to sit together to eat – the pavilion will have a ring of tables and benches arranged around the center of the space, designed for general meetings and discussions, or just for garden-goers to come and sit, read, eat, or work. “It should feel like the kind of place where you might chat with someone sitting not far from you,” Katmeh said. “It’s an unassuming, low-key space where you can feel close to the ground.”
The wooden canopy of nine ‘petals’ folded on a colonnade of laminated timber columns will be supported to form a sheltered walkway around the edge of the pavilion, separated from the interior space by transparent glass screens. Each side of the flower-shaped structure will curve slightly inward, in a considerate nod to the location of the roots of the surrounding trees, exuding a subtle shifting geometry as you walk around the building.
Radial timber ribs would extend across the roof from a central skylight, like the gills of a mushroom, supporting a thin plywood roof, supported by rows of V-shaped ridges (and, Unlike last summer’s design open to the elementsThe eye will be covered with a stretchy membrane crown to keep out the rain). The skeletal structure and taut-back design suggest the feel of a canvas marquee or folded-paper model, touching the ground as gently as possible—a departure from some of the massive construction of recent years. Great concrete foundations.
Katma said, explaining how she intends to use a new kind of Low carbon recycled glass, developed by Saint-Gobain, and designed the hull with bolt-on connections for easy disassembly. lumber would be LVL (Laminated wood veneer), which uses less material than massive cross-laminated timber, creating the narrowest columns and beams possible.
Kotmeh says the design was informed by research into the history of community meeting places and sites of collective rituals, ranging from Stonehenge to Togona Huts of the Dogon people in Mali, West Africa. The toguna—meaning “great shelter”—usually occupies the center of the village, providing a place for the local community to meet to make decisions, mediate disputes, and administer justice. Its low-level ceilings are designed to force people to sit rather than stand, which helps avoid violence when discussions heat up. No doubt technical discussions at The Serpentine may flare up, but Katma’s structure is designed more with accessibility in mind, with ceilings ranging from a comfortable two-and-a-half meters to three metres.
Katma’s selection continues Serpentine’s welcome march of expanding the network and highlighting smaller, lesser-known names. Born in 1980 in Beirut, where she grew up in the aftermath of the Lebanese Civil War, she studied architecture at the American University of Beirut and the Private School of Architecture in Paris. She worked with Jean Nouvel and Norman Foster in London, and got her big break in 2005, when she won an international competition, with two others, for the new. Estonian National Museumwhich led them to found DGT Architects in Paris and realize the building to widespread critical acclaim.
Ghatmaiya established her studio in 2016, garnering international acclaim with the completion of The Otherworld Stone garden Residential architecture in Beirut in 2020, exhibited at the Venice Architecture Biennale last year. It stands like a mighty geological outcropping, its rugged concrete facades riddled with deep manholes, echoing the bullet holes of a war-torn city, scored with horizontal bands of fissures, combed into the surface by hand as the concrete cures. It looks like a giant piece of sedimentary rock, carved into a habitable cliff face, with lush bursts of greenery now spilling out of its vents.
Katma will be completed soon New skins workshop for French fashion house Hermès, designed as a series of interlocking walls of low brick arches around a pair of courtyards. It seems poised to create a similarly ethereal world of framed views, subtle structure and closeness to nature that we can hope to experience at next summer’s pavilion—a super crisp canopy, ready to float away on the breeze.