Therme Art Program

Sumayya Vally

Sumayya Vally is the founder and principal of Counterspace. Her design, research and pedagogical practice is committed to finding expression for hybrid identities and contested territories.

Her context serves as her place for finding speculative histories, futures, archaeologies, and design languages; with the intent to reveal the invisible. Her work is often forensic, and draws on performance, the supernatural, the wayward and the overlooked as generative places of history and work.

She was named on the TIME100 Next list celebrating 100 emerging leaders shaping the future. She is presently based between Johannesburg and London as the lead designer for the Serpentine Pavilion 2020/20 Plus 1.

Therme Group’s acquisition of the 2021 Serpentine Pavilion, designed by Sumayya Vally and Counterspace Studio, marked its fourth consecutive year in partnership with the Serpentine in support of its annual architecture programme. Sumayya Vally is the youngest architect to have been commissioned for this internationally acclaimed programme. As a member of Therme Art’s advisory board, Vally has continually demonstrated the power of architecture as a facilitator of community and wellbeing, including in the realisation of the 2021 Serpentine Pavilion. Through ongoing collaborations with Therme Art, Vally’s architectural projects have expanded the possibilities in the creation of spaces which nurture cross-cultural dialogue, encourage participation and instill a sense of belonging.


The 2021 Serpentine Pavilion designed by Counterspace illustrates the power of architecture in inspiring a strong sense of community, identity, belonging and gathering. Conveyed through abstract and interlacing sculptural elements varying in scale, the Pavilion directly references the landscape of London’s restaurants, markets, bookshops, and cultural establishments.

The structure of the Pavilion pays homage to institutions that have played a significant role in the vitalization of cross-cultural communities during their migration into neighbourhoods such as Brixton, Hoxton, Hackney, Peckham and Notting Hill. Reclaimed steel, cork and timber, which make up the Pavilion’s fabric, weave together a range of pink and brown hues that not only reflect the architectural diversity of London, but also the fluctuating light filtering through the city.

During the summer of 2021, fragments of the Pavilion were installed in neighbourhoods across the city, to facilitate gatherings and impromptu interactions, honouring the history of erased and existing places which have embraced diverse communities over time. A special sound programme commissioned for the Pavilion, Listening to the City, featuring work by artists such as Ain Bailey and Jay Bernard, connected visitors to the stories and sounds of lost spaces across London.

Read more on this collaboration here:

2021 Serpentine Pavilion by Sumayya Vally


Hildegard von Bingen Wellbeing Culture Symposium


In partnership with:

Serpentine, Therme Group, Counterspace