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2012 Serpentine Pavilion design unveiled

May 11, 2012

Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei reveal their design for this year’s Serpentine Pavilion in London.

Images of the design for the 2012 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, created by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron in collaboration with Chinese designer and artist Ai Weiwei, have been released ahead of its official opening on 1 June.

This year’s pavilion will be the twelfth in the annual Serpentine Gallery Pavilion project, which commissions architects to design a temporary pavilion in the grounds of the gallery each summer.

For this year’s commission, the pavilion site in London’s Kensington Gardens will be excavated to uncover and reconstruct the foundations and remains of previous pavilions, allowing visitors to explore the history of the project and the site via the contoured interior landscape. Submerged five feet (1.5 metres) below the grounds of the gallery, the internal structure is entirely lined with cork, a natural and sustainable building material that aims to represent the excavated earth through its warmth.

A floating circular platform filled with shallow water rests on twelve columns, each representing a pavilion constructed over the project’s twelve years. Poised 1.4 metres above the pavilion’s floor, the platform forms the roof of the structure and can be drained to provide an events space as part of the gallery’s summer program.

“Every year since 2000, a different architect has been responsible for creating the Serpentine Gallery’s summer pavilion for
Kensington Gardens. That makes eleven pavilions so far, our contribution will be the twelfth. So many pavilions in so many different shapes
and out of so many different materials have been conceived and built that we tried instinctively to sidestep the unavoidable problem
of creating an object, a concrete shape,” Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei said in a statement.

The Serpentine Pavilion has traditionally been designed by architects who – at the time of the commission – have no previous built projects in Britain. Architects of past pavilions include Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry and Peter Zumthor. Although the Swiss duo are known for converting the Bankside Power Station into the Tate Modern in 2000, the Serpentine Pavilion is their first collaborative project with Ai Weiwei to be built in the UK, reuniting the trio after their collaboration on the Bird’s Nest Stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

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