The 2020 Serpentine Pavilion designed by the Johannesburg-based practice Counterspace will not be built this year because of the COVID19 crisis. The project has been extended into a two-year commission. This will be the first time in its twenty-year history that a new Pavillion will not be erected. The gallery has also cancelled their annual Summer Gala fundraiser, although there has been talk of replacing it with something virtual.
The global COVID-19 crisis has changed the immediate context – David Adjaye
Counterspace, directed by Sumayya Vally, Sarah de Villiers and Amina Kaskar, will collaborate with the Serpentine on a series of off-site and online research projects throughout 2020, which will culminate with the opening of the Pavilion in Summer 2021.
Sir David Adjaye OBE, Serpentine Galleries Trustee and Serpentine Pavilion Advisor said: “The global COVID-19 crisis has changed the immediate context. Rather than rush to execute Counterspace’s stellar design as soon as it is safe to do so, the Serpentine has chosen to accept the slowness reshaping society today and utilise it to develop a deeper relationship with the architects. We look forward to working with Counterspace over the next twelve months to draw more meaningful connections between their Pavilion and the people, communities, and nature of London. While the circumstances that have prompted this evolution are by no means easy, we believe it is an important opportunity for this Pavilion to stand as a bridge of sorts between either side of this unfathomably significant time in history.”
The lead architect on the project, Sumayya Vally of Counterspace, said:
“We’ve always relied on places of gathering to come together, and we miss them when they’re gone. COVID-19 has brought the Pavilion themes of community and gathering sharply into focus – allowing us the opportunity to extend and deepen our engagement process over two years. We are excited to launch a set of initiatives that will redefine and celebrate the role of gathering and the construction and preservation of belonging in times of crisis – reversing the original procession, so that a cascade of dialogues, events, programmes and fragments of the Pavilion will pop-up incrementally in real and digital space throughout 2020 coming together in 2021 in Kensington Gardens to form Pavilion 20 plus 1.”
Bettina Korek, CEO, and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director, Serpentine Galleries said: “Counterspace’s Pavilion has developed in tandem with Back to Earth, our multi-year initiative responding to the environmental crisis. Ecology, community and other themes of Back to Earth are intrinsic to Counterspace’s practice as well, and these have only grown more meaningful during this time of social distancing and planetary struggle. We are fortunate to have this opportunity to take more time to collaborate with Counterspace and our community partners on their commission. Back to Earth inaugurates our commitment to making ‘Slow Programming’ that expands beyond the conventional limits of museum activity. We are grateful to the architects for their vision and to all our supporters who make it possible for us to continue our work of evolving the Serpentine’s role in a rapidly changing society.”
The Serpentine’s public programme of live performance, discussion, food and family engagement in the Pavilion, as well as the annual fundraiser, The Summer Party, will also move to 2021.
The realisation of the annual Serpentine Pavilion relies on the support and expertise of several organisations and individuals, without whom the commission would not be possible. The Serpentine is grateful for the continuing support during the temporary closure.