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Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei to design Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012
The Olympic Stadium in Beijing. EPA/Caparol-Firmengruppe.
LONDON.- The Serpentine Gallery announced that Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei will create the 2012 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion. It will be the twelfth commission in the Gallery’s annual series, the world’s first and most ambitious architectural programme of its kind.

The design team responsible for the celebrated Beijing National Stadium, which was built for the 2008 Olympic Games and won the prestigeous RIBA Lubetkin Prize, will come together again in London in 2012 in a special development of the Serpentine’s acclaimed annual commission which will be presented as part of the London 2012 Festival, the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad. The Pavilion will be Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei’s first collaborative built structure in the UK.

This year’s Pavilion will take visitors beneath the Serpentine’s lawn to explore the hidden history of its previous Pavilions. Eleven columns characterising each past Pavilion and a twelfth column will support a floating platform roof 1.5 metres above ground. Taking an archaeological approach, the architects have created a design that will inspire visitors to look beneath the surface of the park as well as back in time across the ghosts of the earlier structures.

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. We are delighted that our annual commission will bring this unique architectural collaboration to Europe to mark the continuity between the Beijing 2008 and the London 2012 Games.”

Describing their design concept Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei said: On the foundations of each single Pavilion, we extrude a new structure (supports, walls) as load-bearing elements for the roof of our Pavilion – eleven supports all old, plus our own column that we can place at will, like a wild card. The roof resembles that of an archaeological site. It floats some five feet above the grass of the park, so that everyone visiting can see the water on it, its surface reflecting the infinitely varied, atmospheric skies of London. For special events, the water can be drained off the roof as from a bathtub, from whence it flows back into the waterhole, the deepest point in the Pavilion landscape. The dry roof can then be used as a dance floor or simply as a platform suspended above the park.

The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion will operate as a public space and as a venue for Park Nights, the Gallery’s high-profile programme of public talks and events. Connecting to the archaeological focus of the Pavilion design Park Nights will culminate in October with the Serpentine Gallery Memory Marathon, the latest edition of the annual Serpentine Marathon series conceived by Hans Ulrich Obrist, now in its seventh year. The Marathon series began in 2006 with the 24-hour Serpentine Gallery Interview Marathon; followed by the Experiment Marathon in 2007; The Manifesto Marathon in 2008; the Poetry Marathon in 2009, the Map Marathon in 2010 and the Garden Marathon in 2011.



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