Images released of Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei's 2012 Serpentine Pavilion
The first images have been released of the 2012 Serpentine Pavilion, designed by Swiss duo Herzog & de Meuron with controversial artist and designer Ai Weiwei. The renderings show a disc of water resting on twelve thick cream columns, one for each of the past Serpentine Pavilions and one representing the 2012 structure. Whilst the architects behind the Serpentine Pavilion change year on year, Arup has led the engineering since the project's inception in 2000.
This inventive concept involves excavating the Serpentine Pavilion site to unearth the foundations and remains of previous pavilions, created by the likes of Jean Novel, Zaha Hadid and Frank Gehry, and putting them on display to the general public. A layer of cork will encase the interior space while a floating platform roof 1.4m above ground level will form a shimmering reflective surface.
Herzog & de Meuron explain: “Our path to an alternative solution involves digging down some five feet into the soil of the park until we reach the groundwater. There we dig a waterhole, a kind of well, to collect all of the London rain that falls in the area of the pavilion. In that way we incorporate an otherwise invisible aspect of reality in the park - the water under the ground - into our pavilion. As we dig down into the earth we encounter a diversity of constructed realities such as telephone cables and former foundations.”
Each year the Serpentine Gallery invites an architect that has never completed a building in the United Kingdom to compose designs for a temporary structure in London’s Hyde Park. The pavilion stands from June until October and then is sold off to a private owner. This year’s structure has already been bought by steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal. Although Herzog & de Meuron converted the former Bankside Power Station into the Tate Modern in 2000, this is their first completely new building in the UK and the first time they have collaborated with Ai Weiwei on a project in the country. The duo united in 2003 to design the Bird's Nest Stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Julia Peyton-Jones, Director, and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-Director, Serpentine Gallery, said: "It is a great honour 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."