Dezeen Magazine

Diébédo Francis Kéré bundles logs to form roof of Tippet Rise Art Center pavilion

Burkinabe architect Diébédo Francis Kéré used dead trees to build this pavilion at the Tippet Rise Art Center in Montana, USA.

The roof, columns and seats of Kéré's Xylem pavilion are made from bundles of local ponderosa and lodge pole pine logs, felled during a "natural pruning" process that aims to save forests from parasitic bugs.

Xylem by Francis Kéré

"No healthy trees were felled or damaged during the building process!" said Kéré Architecture in a comment on its Instagram account.

Kéré built Xylem between the main facilities of the art centre and the beginning of its hiking tracks to form a gathering place for visitors of the ranch in Fishtail.

Xylem by Francis Kéré

The 256-square-metre structure takes cues from traditional toguna, a shelter typically found in Dogon culture, which spans West African countries Mali and Burkino Faso.

Low-level wood and straw roofs rest on a series of columns to offer shade in these pavilions, while also bringing in plenty of natural light and ventilation.

Drawing on this, Xylem's canopy comprises groups of logs slotted in between a modular, hexagonal weathering steel structure to allow daylight to filter through.

The top of these blocks are carved to form a gently undulating roofline. Underneath, the bundles extend down to different levels.

Xylem by Francis Kéré

Steel columns covered by longer wooden logs hold up the roof and rest on the polished concrete circular base that forms the platform for seating below.

Kéré wrapped the base of these columns in curvilinear logged benches that are oriented to to make the most of views to the surrounding landscape – including aspen trees and a small creek. The layout of the seating is also intended to encourage visitors to use them in various ways.

"Through exploration, the user can in fact discover the different spatial configurations of the pavilion, gather in small groups or have a chat between friends, lie and watch the romantic views with his partner, or sit and meditate in solitude on his visit of the Art Center," said a statement.

Xylem by Francis Kéré

Xylem was built at the Tippet Rise Art Center to form a parallel with Kéré's Naaba Belem Goumma Secondary School in Gando, Burkina Faso, which was funded by the Tippet Rise Fund of the Sidney E Frank Foundation.

Kéré completed the primary school in 2001 while he was still studying architecture in Germany, marking his first ever built project.

Xylem by Francis Kéré

The architect – who has offices in Gando and Berlin, Germany – has since built his reputation on his socially driven and sustainable approach to architecture. Many of his projects also draw on the architecture of west Africa, including the Serpentine Pavilion 2017 and an installation at this year's Coachella Festival.

Photography is by Iwan Baan.

Project credits:

Architect: Kéré Architecture, Diébédo Francis Kéré
Design team: Vincenzo Salierno, Nina Tescari
Contributors: Kinan Deeb, Andrea Zaia, Lina Wittfoht, N’Faly Ismaël Camara
Client: Tippet Rise Art Center, Fishtail, Montana
Project management: Pete Hinmon, Tippet Rise Art Center, Fishtail, Montana
Architect of record: Laura Viklund, Fishtail, Montana
Structural engineer: AECOM, London, United Kingdom
Structural engineer of record: DCI Engineers, Bozeman, Montana
Civil engineer: DOWL Engineering, Billings, Montana
General contractor: On Site Management, Bozeman, Montana
Wood fabricator: Chris Gunn, Gunnstock Timber Frames, Powell, Wyoming
Steel fabrication: TrueNorth Steel, Billings, Montana
Steel erection: Western States Steel Erection, Billings, Montana
Concrete: Davis and Sons Construction, Absarokee Montana

More images

Xylem by Francis Kéré
Site plan
Xylem by Francis Kéré
Roof plan
Xylem by Francis Kéré