Serpentine Pavilion 2023: À table, designed by architect Lina Ghotmeh, derives from the aspiration to create a sustainable kinship with the land through food and our primal relationship to the Earth.
Inspired by the Lebanese-born, Paris-based architect’s Mediterranean heritage and fervent discussions around the table over current affairs, politics, personal lives, and dreams, the Pavilion is titled À table – a French call to sit down together at a table to enter into dialogue and to share a meal. As such, the interior of the Pavilion features a circular table along the perimeter, inviting us to convene, sit down, think, share and celebrate exchanges that enable new relationships to form.
Considering food as an expression of care, the Pavilion’s design is a space for grounding and reflection on our relationship to land, nature and environment. By offering a moment of conviviality around a table, Ghotmeh welcomes us to share the ideas, concerns, joys, dissatisfactions, responsibilities, traditions, cultural memories, and histories that bring us together.
Structure and Build
Built predominantly from bio-sourced and low-carbon materials, the Serpentine Pavilion 2023 continues Ghotmeh’s focus on sustainability and designing spaces that are conceived in dialogue with the natural environment that surrounds them. The design of the space responds to the shape of the surrounding tree canopies, the internal wooden beams that encircle the perimeter of the Pavilion emerge as thin birch tree trunks. The Pavilion’s pleated roof is inspired by a palm leaf. The lightwell in the middle allows natural light and ventilation, furthering the space’s integration with its environment. The structure’s modest low roof takes inspiration from togunas: structures found in Mali, West Africa, which are traditionally used for community gatherings to discuss current issues, but also to offer shade and relief from heat. The low-lying roofs of these structures encourage people to remain seated peacefully and pause throughout discussions.
Historic Influences of Serpentine South
Designed by James Grey West, the Serpentine South building opened in 1934 and originally functioned as a teahouse until the early 1960s, before becoming an art gallery. In the summer months, the café’s seating area also extended to the lawn, which the Pavilion will occupy. In honouring the history of the building where Serpentine South is located, the Pavilion’s design further reflects Ghotmeh’s approach to architecture – described by the architect as an ‘Archaeology of the Future’ in which historical narratives are woven into her innovative designs.