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Sarbalé Ke

Status:

Completed

Date:

Temporary large-scale art installation from April 12th to April 21st, 2019

Site:

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Indio, California, USA

Size:

200 sqm

Client:

Goldenvoice, Los Angeles, California

Collaborators:

Structural Engineer: Kyle Morris, Project Management: Raffi Lehrer, Associate Art Director, Goldenvoice, Los Angeles

Sarbalé Ke, the “House of Celebration” in the Mòoré language of Burkina Faso, is an installation created for the 2019 Coachella Music and Arts Festival. Inspired by the baobab tree, Sarbalé Ke explores its inner world. As the tree grows, its inside hollows and skylights develop throughout the central trunk. In West Africa, it is deeply valued as a community landmark and revered for its medicinal and nutritional uses. 

The installation features 12 baobab towers, reflecting the material, texture and spatial layout of the architecture in Francis Kéré’s birthplace, Gando, Burkina Faso. The three tallest baobabs form the installation’s centre and Sarbalé Ke’s largest gathering space. Here, at the heart of the compound, visitors can flow through the trunks from all directions. Their light-filled, naturally ventilated and shaded interiors evoke the wonder of daylight in the heart of a baobab while responding to the immediate need for shade in Indio’s spring climate.

The three adjoining central towers are surrounded by another set of three, rotating clockwise from the installation’s centre. Around the installation’s periphery, a group of six smaller towers provide more intimate gathering spaces. During the day, their radial design allows rays of light to filter into each structure. As the sun sets, the baobab towers are illuminated from within, transforming them into a functional light source that brightens the festival grounds through the night.

The materials for the baobab towers were chosen with affordability and local availability in mind. Steel is the primary structural element. Triangular wooden panels are held in matte blues, oranges, reds and pinks; as the sun hits the towers’ exterior surfaces, the installation adopts the colour palette of Indio’s sunrises and sunsets, as well as the hues of the nearby mountain range.

Following the festival, Sarbalé Ke was moved to its permanent location in the East Coachella Valley, where it serves as a public gathering pavilion.

Sarbalé Ke, the “House of Celebration” in the Mòoré language of Burkina Faso, is an installation created for the 2019 Coachella Music and Arts Festival. Inspired by the baobab tree, Sarbalé Ke explores its inner world. As the tree grows, its inside hollows and skylights develop throughout the central trunk. In West Africa, it is deeply valued as a community landmark and revered for its medicinal and nutritional uses. 

The installation features 12 baobab towers, reflecting the material, texture and spatial layout of the architecture in Francis Kéré’s birthplace, Gando, Burkina Faso. The three tallest baobabs form the installation’s centre and Sarbalé Ke’s largest gathering space. Here, at the heart of the compound, visitors can flow through the trunks from all directions. Their light-filled, naturally ventilated and shaded interiors evoke the wonder of daylight in the heart of a baobab while responding to the immediate need for shade in Indio’s spring climate.

The three adjoining central towers are surrounded by another set of three, rotating clockwise from the installation’s centre. Around the installation’s periphery, a group of six smaller towers provide more intimate gathering spaces. During the day, their radial design allows rays of light to filter into each structure. As the sun sets, the baobab towers are illuminated from within, transforming them into a functional light source that brightens the festival grounds through the night.

The materials for the baobab towers were chosen with affordability and local availability in mind. Steel is the primary structural element. Triangular wooden panels are held in matte blues, oranges, reds and pinks; as the sun hits the towers’ exterior surfaces, the installation adopts the colour palette of Indio’s sunrises and sunsets, as well as the hues of the nearby mountain range.

Following the festival, Sarbalé Ke was moved to its permanent location in the East Coachella Valley, where it serves as a public gathering pavilion.

Serbalé Ke. Photo by Iwan Baan.
Aerial view of Serbalé Ke at Coachella. Photo by Iwan Baan.
Coachella attendents sitting around Serbalé Ke. Photo by Iwan Baan.
Plan of Sarbalé Ke.
Axonometry of Sarbalé Ke.
Serbalé Ke at night. Photo by Iwan Baan.
Base of the Serbalé Ke cones at Coachella. Photo by Iwan Baan.
Serbalé Ke at Coachella lit up at night. Photo by Iwan Baan.
Inside view of a Serbalé Ke cone at Coachella. Photo by Iwan Baan.