francis kéré's tippet rise pavilion offers 'a more intimate experience of its landscape'

francis kéré's tippet rise pavilion offers 'a more intimate experience of its landscape'

‘xylem’, a pavilion designed by francis kéré, has opened at tippet rise — an arts venue located on an 12,000-acre working ranch in the US state of montana. the structure is the first site-specific commission to be added to the institution’s collection since it opened to the public in 2016. located close to the central campus, kéré’s design is inspired by the traditional togunas of the dogon culture of mali. these sacred shelters with wooden pillars are carved with ornaments representing the villagers’ ancestors.

francis kere tippet rise
image by iwan baan, courtesy of tippet rise/iwan baan



nestled in a grove of trees, the 2,100-square-foot pavilion is constructed from locally- and sustainably-sourced ponderosa and lodgepole pine and features a canopy of vertical logs, which filters shafts of light onto the seating areas. for the seating elements’ organic shapes, francis kéré was inspired in part by abstract paintings that artist and tippet rise co-founder cathy halstead created based on forms of microscopic life, in addition to the sinuous topography of the surrounding landscape.

image by iwan baan, courtesy of tippet rise/iwan baan



visitors to tippet rise may gather within ‘xylem’ to converse or contemplate the views, or sit and meditate in solitude. from time to time, programs will be hosted in the pavilion, including poetry readings and musical performances. ‘standing on the high meadow of tippet rise art center, looking out at the mountains under a vast sky, people can face nature at its widest scale,’ says francis kéré. ‘but with this pavilion, tippet rise offers a more intimate experience of its landscape within a quiet shelter, where people can access the most secret part of nature: the heart of the trees.’

image by iwan baan, courtesy of tippet rise/iwan baan



the logs of the canopy have been assembled in circular bundles bore by a modular hexagonal structure in weathering steel, lying on top of seven steel columns. the upper surface of the canopy is carved sinuously in order to create a rounded topography that blends in with the surrounding hills. the roof canopy protects visitors from the sun, but at the same time allows ventilation of the shaded space underneath.

francis kere tippet rise
image by iwan baan, courtesy of tippet rise/iwan baan



in keeping with the educational mission of the art center, the tippet rise fund of the sidney e. frank foundation is funding the construction of a new school francis kéré has designed in his birthplace — the village of gando in burkina faso. opening in january 2020, the naaba belem goumma secondary school will accommodate approximately 1,000 students.

image by iwan baan, courtesy of tippet rise/iwan baan



starting july 5, 2019, tippet rise art center will welcome the public for its fourth summer, offering tours of its monumental outdoor sculptures and architectural structures on fridays, saturdays and sundays. visitors can explore the 12,000-acre working ranch via 10.5 miles of hiking and biking trails, or by shuttle van. the summer’s concert season will begin july 12 and continue for seven weeks, through september 7, 2019. the season brings together accomplished artists and up-and-coming stars for 23 indoor and outdoor recitals and chamber music performances, which will span more than four centuries of repertoire.

image by iwan baan, courtesy of tippet rise/iwan baan



project info:


local title: xylem
location: tippet rise art center, fishtail, montana
type of project: commission, gathering pavilion
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


dates —
design: december 2017 – ongoing
construction: november 2018 – june 2019
opening: july 2019
status: on going


numbers —
total footprint area: 256 sqm
altitude: 1,394 m a.s.l.
platform area: 195 sqm
platform diameter: 15.80 m
roof area: 256 sqm
roof diameter: 18.10 m
maximum roof height: 4.75 m

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