French-Lebanese architect Lina Ghotmeh has unveiled her 2023 Serpentine Pavilion, a 300-square-meter glulam situated in London’s Kensington Gardens called “À Table.” The name is in reference to the French phrase that invites people to sit down together to eat.

As such, the pavilion aims to be a gathering place where people can meet and communicate with each other. It is a nine-sided structure that encloses a trio of scalloped-shaped tables. Ghotmeh said her design encourages people to “dwell together in the same space and around the same table. It is an encouragement to enter into a dialogue, to convene and to think about how we could reinstate and re-establish our relationship to nature and to Earth.”

The pavilion, which opens to the public on June 9, used pleated Birch plywood for the roof where a 3.4-meter skylight in the center covered by an EFTE pre-tensioned fabric structure allows natural light and ventilation. The low roof, measuring 4.4 meters high at the center and dropping to 3.1 meters high at the eaves, aims to create a more intimate space where people can gather.

Meanwhile, glulam timber columns support the pavilion’s perimeter, mimicking tree trunks while the scalloped edges are inspired by the shape of nearby tree roots. Pairs of columns that create a gallery colonnade also support cantilevered glulam beams that extend to the pavilion’s center.

Then CNC-machined wooden screens adorned with leaf-like perforations partially serve as walls while still allowing views and ventilation. The “À Table” features a suspended wooden floor mounted on a precast concrete pad foundation that will be removed and rebuilt at a different site after it closes on 29 October 2023.

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Images courtesy of Lina Ghotmeh