Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei have unveiled the first images of what will be this year's Serpentine Pavilion. This 12th annual commission will dig down into the lawn of London's Serpentine Gallery to explore the history of pavilions past. A floating canopy will be held aloft by 11 columns representing the past pavilions, and a 12th representing the current one. Underneath the floor, walkways and walls will be clad in cork, a renewable material chosen for its unique qualities and texture, which echoes the excavated earth. This project is the first collaborative project for Herzog & de Mueron and Ai Weiwei in the UK, and it draws on the success of their past collaboration on the Bird's Nest Stadium in Beijing for the 2008 Olympics.
The 2012 Serpentine Pavilion is envisioned as an exploration of the past 11 pavilions. Like an archeological dig, the team will root down into the earth to uncover traces of pavilions past and showcase them for visitors. The floor and walls will be clad in renewable cork, which was specifically chosen because of its qualities. Then 12 columns representing the previous pavilions plus the current one will support a floating platform roof 1.4 meters above ground. This roof will collect rainwater and can be seen as a shimmering mirror to reflect the sky. For special occasions the roof can be drained for events as a stage or even a dance floor.
Julia Peyton-Jones, Director, and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-Director, Serpentine Gallery, said: “It is a great honor to be working with Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei, the design team behind Beijing’s superb Bird’s Nest Stadium. In this exciting year for London we are proud to be creating a connection between the Beijing 2008 and the London 2012 Games. We are enormously grateful for the help of everyone involved, especially Usha and Lakshmi N. Mittal, whose incredible support has made this project possible.” The 12th commission of the Serpentine Gallery will be open to the public from June 1 to October 14, 2012. The 2012 Pavilion has been purchased by Usha and Lakshmi N. Mittal and will enter their private collection after it closes to the public in October 2012.
Images ©Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei courtesy of the Serpentine Gallery