Snapshot: Serpentine Gallery Pavilion

August 2012
Designers: Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei

By Laura Mirviss


Snapshot: Serpentine Gallery Pavilion
Photo © Iwan Baan
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion. Click here to view more images. slideshow


Collective memory was the driving force behind the latest incarnation of the annual, temporary Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, by Swiss architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron and Chinese artist-activist Ai Weiwei. To build a kind of manufactured archaeological site based on the previous 11 pavilions, the team created a drawing that fused the foundations of those structures into a single digital rendering, and then carved this form out of the ground. The three, who collaborated on the Bird's Nest Stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, worked around Ai's house arrest by communicating via Skype. The subterranean 4,300-square-foot floor, consisting of overlaid geometric forms, is blanketed in compressed cork that fits together like pieces of a 3-D jigsaw puzzle. A massive dishlike steel roof supported by 12 steel columns wrapped in cork is a nod to the temporary canopies that cover fragile archaeological sites. It holds a shallow pool that reflects the neo-Georgian gallery across the lawn. Visitors can walk all over the pavilion's lower-level surfaces and can rearrange the movable stools and benches to create a makeshift stage, platform, or jungle gym, or simply sit quietly to take a breather from the bustle of the Olympics nearby.

Rate this project:
Based on what you have seen and read about this project, how would you grade it? Use the stars below to indicate your assessment, five stars being the highest rating.
----- Advertising -----

 Reader Comments:

Sign in to Comment

To write a comment about this story, please sign in. If this is your first time commenting on this site, you will be required to fill out a brief registration form. Your public username will be the beginning of the email address that you enter into the form (everything before the @ symbol). Other than that, none of the information that you enter will be publically displayed.

We welcome comments from all points of view. Off-topic or abusive comments, however, will be removed at the editors’ discretion.

----- Advertising -----
View all