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Therme Group Acquires the 2021 Serpentine Pavilion by Johannesburg-based Studio, Counterspace

The move marks Therme Group’s third consecutive year in partnership with the Serpentine to support its annual architecture programme.

It follows Therme Group’s acquisitions of 2019 and 2018 Pavilions designed by Junya Ishigami and Frida Escobedo, respectively, and highlights the many shared values connecting Therme Group’s holistic vision of urban planning and the pioneering architecture programme. For Therme Group, the Serpentine Pavilion programme represents a paradigm of creative design – a template for a new kind of city founded on creativity, inclusion and sustainability.

Therme Group’s acquisition of the 2021 Pavilion is part a growing portfolio of creative partnerships and joint ventures led by its international cultural initiative Therme Art, which has worked with Serpentine since 2018. The productive collaboration is founded in a shared ambition to work across disciplines and to forge new alliances beyond art. 

Speaking on its acquisition of the Counterspace Pavilion, Dr Robert C. Hanea Therme Group’s Founder and CEO said:

“Counterspace’s response to this year’s Serpentine Pavilion commission reflects the critical need we see today for architecture to transition into a grassroots approach that can empower diverse communities and forms of personal expression. Sumayya Vally’s ability to imbue projects with candid humanitarian values is truly inspiring. We look forward to seeing the pavilion grow into a social sculpture over the summer and are very proud to partner with the Serpentine in support of this fantastic architectural programme now again in the third consecutive year.” 

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Serpentine Pavilion 2021 designed by Counterspace, Design Render, Interior View © Counterspace

The Pavilion was designed to reference places of meeting, organizing and belonging that are particularly relevant to migrant communities in London. The forms in the Pavilion are a result of abstracting, superimposing and splicing architectural elements, varying in scales of intimacy, from various locations, translating the shapes of London into the Pavilion structure in Kensington Gardens. During the summer, fragments of the Pavilion will be installed in neighbourhoods across the city, to support and facilitate gatherings and impromptu interactions, to honour the history of places which have held communities over time. A specially commissioned sound programme for the Pavilion, Listening to the City, will feature work by artists including Ain Bailey and Jay Bernard, connecting visitors to the stories and sounds of lost spaces across London. 

Speaking about Sumayya’s architectural concept, Mikolaj Sekutowicz, CEO and Co-Founder of Therme Art, commented: 

“Having in our mind the urban wellbeing solution that our company is creating for Manchester, we are looking at the shining example of Sumayya Vally’s architecture of ideas contrary to an architecture of stones. We need this complex vision of architecture, that is not creating monuments but communities, networked ideas and urban resonances for the future of our cities to thrive.” 

Counterspace’s director Sumayya Vally, who founded the studio in Johannesburg in 2015, is the youngest architect to design the Serpentine’s summer Pavilion. She has stated: 

“I extend my warmest thanks to Therme for their support of the Serpentine Pavilion 2021 and I look forward to seeing it in its new home. Every building is just an idea until a team comes together to build it. We are very pleased to have Therme on our Pavilion team this year.” 

Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director of the Serpentine, has commented on the renewed partnership between the Serpentine and Therme Group with the following words:

“We are so grateful to Therme Art for their continued support of the Serpentine Pavilion, which not only allows us to realise this ambitious project this summer, it also ensures the Pavilion has a future beyond its time in Kensington Gardens.”

Hero image: Serpentine Pavilion 2021 designed by Counterspace, Design Render, Exterior View © Counterspace