Unearthing foundations – Serpentine Pavilion 2012

In a recent blog post the museum as “bubble”, I spoke about how the Hirshhorn Museum‘s new temporary “architecture of air” addition reminded me of the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion…the annually commissioned architectural series every Summer in Kensington Gardens in London, UK, where this year it will be created by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron and contemporary Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. Thanks to TXNY for sending this through…it’s the most up-to-date developments and plans for their pavilion…it looks like it could be a pretty interesting in terms of visual and physical experience…see what you think.

It takes an archaeological approach, digging up Kensington Gardens to creating a new sunken space from the foundations of the previous eleven pavilions. A shallow, disc-shaped pool of water forms the roof, suspended about 5 feet above the excavated earth, at about chest height if you’re standing outside the gallery. Twelve column supports, one for each of the Gallery’s past pavilions plus a twelfth for this year’s, which the designers placed where they wanted, ‘like a wild card’, will support this floating roof and will, alternately, be covered with water to form a reflecting pool or drained to allow visitors to use the dry roof as a “dance floor or viewing platform”. It is to reflect the sky, and signifies the water below. Apparently, for special events, it will be drained and used as a space for the gallery’s talks programme, a dining area, and even a dance floor – health, safety and weather permitting. The hollowed out interior ‘landscape’ of the pavilion will be entirely lined with cork to mimic the color of the removed soil. Its contours are generated from overlaid impressions of the previous pavilions and other underground features of the site. It is beautiful to see (below) the aerial images, drawings and visions of how the previous pavilions were placed within the park…overlapping fragments of past architectural constructs that combined create an abstract sense of space. It’ll be good to see this, maybe dance on it’s “roof” and no doubt review it for some arts magazine during my June during UK visit…London park action ahoy.

I had to finish this post with a photograph of Ai Weiwei with Herzog & de Meuron at dinner. I like seeing the reality behind the scenes of how projects come together, which, when in China, happens mostly over dinner and drinks…no word of a lie it does…sometimes it’s productive, other times it’s very distracting…but it’s always good social fun. As I was sourcing information for this blog post, I came across this quote by Ai Weiwei…

‘China is like a runner sprinting very fast but it has a heart condition.” – Ai Weiwei

…and it really does ring true right? There are things that stop this country from being all that it could, things that come with a sense of uncertainty and the unknown as to what could happen…but at the same time it’s “heart condition” makes it work in totally different, diverse, unexpected, spontaneous, live for the moment, exciting and creative ways. That’s why I’m here as there’s nowhere quite like China…I like it.

Photos: Courtesy Serpentine Gallery / © 2012, by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei

Photos: Courtesy Serpentine Gallery / © 2012, by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei

Photos: Courtesy Serpentine Gallery / © 2012, by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei

Photos: Courtesy Serpentine Gallery / © 2012, by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei

Photos: Courtesy Serpentine Gallery / © 2012, by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei

Photos: Courtesy Serpentine Gallery / © 2012, by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei

Photograph of Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei at dinner, courtesy Herzog & de Meuron ©

2 responses to “Unearthing foundations – Serpentine Pavilion 2012

  1. Pingback: All change! « Rachel Marsden's Words·

  2. Pingback: Ai Weiwei’s Progress(?) « Rachel Marsden's Words·

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