The Gathering Pavilion
Project NameThe Gathering Pavilion at Tippet Rise Arts Centre, Montana, by Kéré Architecture
Photographer DetailsKéré Architecture
The Tippet Rise Arts Centre in Montana lies just north of Yellowstone National Park, around 1300m above sea level. Artists and philanthropists Peter and Cathy Halstead founded the 12,000 acre ranch, which opened in 2016. The ranch features large scale outdoor sculptures prominently in its permanent collection.
The Arts Centre commissions new structures each year, with the ‘Gathering Pavilion’ set to open in June 2019.
The new log ‘Gathering Pavilion’ has been designed by the firm of Burkina Faso born architect Francis Kéré. The structure is inspired by traditional ‘Toguna’ shelters, erected by the Dogon people of West Africa. Most commonly found in Mali, the Togunas are constructed from logs and straw, providing a central meeting place for villagers and elders to gather. Characterised by low roofs and deep overhangs, the structures are designed to encourage sitting rather standing. The overhanging roof provides shade from the harsh African sun, while natural ventilation can occur through the absence of walls.
The ‘Gathering Pavilion’ space is designed to be a reflective and peaceful one, inspiring a connection with nature. The pavilion perches in a slightly sunken landform between the centre’s main facilities and the beginning of the hiking tracks leading to the sculpture trail. Huge pine logs form almost all visible aspects of the pavilion. The timber logs themselves have a lightness that creates balance between refuge and meditative space. Sunbeams penetrate the vertical log roof, creating a ‘rain of light’ atmosphere. The effect dapples the in-built seating below, also carved from raw timber logs. A children’s play area called the ‘sensory cave’ has been ruggedly carved out of the log work. The cave provides a tactile and magical space for children to engage with the natural wood.
The circular form of the pavilion invites visitors to experience the space in any circulation they want. With equal orientation to all views of the natural surrounds, visitors can enter and exit however they like. An adjoining circular bridge crossing the adjacent river continues the round form. The airy, ribbon-like bridge defies gravity by touching the ground lightly at only two points, minimising environmental impact and continuing the journey deeper into the environment. Carefully positioned timber benches provide distinct view points of the pavilion and surrounds.
The logs forming the structure will be bundled together in groups to establish columns and create a tree trunk effect. A modular hexagonal node made from weathering steel will hold the bundles together, and lie on seven steel columns to form the structure for the canopy.
Sustainably harvested Ponderosa and lodgepole pine logs were sourced from a local supplier. The logs were harvested as part of a natural pruning process that protects the forest from parasitic bugs. The project will move forward in collaboration with Montana based architect Laura Viklund of Gunnstock Timber Frames, who will be constructing the pavilion.
The logs have been carved into a curved shape on top, in order to blend with the surrounding mountains. A small viewing platform has been etched within the roof logs to provide an elevated surface for a small number of visitors. The platform can be reached via a hidden stair, and provides a perfect spot for viewing the sunset through the Aspen trees.
The pavilion takes up a total footprint of 256m2 with the roof overhang, whilst the platform itself covers an area of 195m2.
Under the canopy of the pavilion will be a space reminiscent of the cool, dappled shading of a forest. The form is designed to emphasise the magical views of the surrounding landscape, consisting of mountains, creeks, aspen trees and sculptures.
As it is entirely carved out of wooden logs, the pavilion extends a symbolic invitation to confront the wildest part of nature- the heart of the raw tree. The logs are displayed in their bare form, becoming exterior, interior, and structural material. The singular materiality creates a cohesive and simplistic structure with a natural and expressive feel.
Visitors can choose to sit and reflect, engage with the sensory cave, or feel the warmth of the natural timber around them.