The Handbook
The Handbook

The Women Architects Shaking Up The London Art Scene

By Phil Clarke | 11th February 2020

Three architects from South Africa will make history this summer as the youngest yet to receive the honour of creating the annual Serpentine Gallery pavilion. The trio, three women from Cape Town, form design studio Counterpoint Studio and will bring a theme of sustainability to the temporary pavilion, before it’s torn down to make way for next year’s creation.

The design, revealed yesterday, combines traditional and radical, with a classical design and yet this centrepiece of the West London arty-farty set calendar (read very white and very rich) will focus on the experiences of London’s migrant communities. Over the pavilion’s four month lifecycle it will be gradually augmented with more memories and references to communities across the capital as the architects work with different groups.

They will bring a theme of sustainability to the temporary pavilion

The pavilion itself will be created from sustainable materials, particularly making use of recycled construction waste, a process that will form 90 per cent of the building. Along with these incredibly sustainable bricks, the other main material used on the pavilion will be cork. Cork is particularly sustainable (let’s here a cheer from all the wine drinkers) because it doesn’t require the tree to be cut down to harvest the bark cork is made from.

The women behind the creation are Sumayya Vally, Amina Kaskar and Sarah de Villier, collectively operating as Counterspace Studio. They often work with artists and performers to create events which uncover hidden histories, and that’s something they hope to emulate in their pavilion, bringing in voices from the likes of¬†Hoxton, Hackney, Whitechapel, Edgware Road, Peckham, Ealing and North Kensington.

And the pressure will be on, this is the 20th time the Pavilion has been retransmogrified and all eyes will be on the trio. Not least because last year’s pavilion, a hill built from stacked slate piles and designed by Japanese architect Junya Ishigami, was overshadowed by the shock exit of Serpentine Gallery¬†CEO Yana Peel after a scandal.

The pavilion opens this summer, with no date slated but we’re expecting to see it in the flesh around early June.