Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei join forces again

Following the success of the Bird's Nest at the 2008 Beijing Olympics the trio will design the Serpentine Pavilion
Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei pictured whilst taking a moment off from working on the Bird's Nest Stadium for the Beijing Olympics
Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei pictured whilst taking a moment off from working on the Bird's Nest Stadium for the Beijing Olympics


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Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei and Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron will team up for a second time to create the 2012 Serpentine Pavilion, an annual event that, since it began 12 years ago, has become an artworld-calendar highlight. The pair first joined forces in 2008 for the now iconic Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium in Beijing. It was during their time together working in Beijing that they began discussing the design that will grace Hyde Park this summer. Ai and Herzog & de Meuron have made all the preparations over Skype - following a turbulent last year for the artist he is unable to leave China. It is as yet unknown whether Ai will make it to the UK for when the Pavilion opens in June.

Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei's Bird's Nest Stadium photographed by Iwan BaanHerzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei's Bird's Nest Stadium photographed by Iwan Baan

The design will pay homage to the Pavilions of the past 11 years. Each past structure (which has included designs by Oscar Niemeyer, Frank Gehry, Toyo Ito and Zaha Hadid) will be represented by one of 12 columns which will support a floating platform, situated five feet above ground-level. Describing the design, Ai and Herzog & de Meuron said: “So many Pavilions in so many different shapes and out of so many different materials have been conceived and built that we tried instinctively to sidestep the unavoidable problem of creating an object, a concrete shape.”

“On the foundations of each single Pavilion, we extrude a new structure (supports, walls) as load-bearing elements for the roof of our Pavilion – 11 supports all told, 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.”

Inside Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei's Bird's Nest StadiumInside Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei's Bird's Nest Stadium

“The water can be drained off the roof as from a bathtub. The dry roof can then be used as a dance floor or simply as a platform suspended above the park,” They added.

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