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Ai Weiwei Herzog & de Meuron Serpentine Pavilion Unveiled - ArtLyst Article image

Ai Weiwei Herzog & de Meuron Serpentine Pavilion Unveiled

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The design for this years Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, designed by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei, has been unveiled. It will be the twelfth commission in the Gallery’s annual series and the world’s first and most ambitious architectural programme of its kind. The design team responsible for creating the celebrated Beijing National (Birds Nest) Stadium, which was built for the 2008 Olympic Games, comes together again in London for the Serpentine’s acclaimed annual commission, presented as part of the London 2012 Festival

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 representing the current structure will support a floating platform roof 1.4 metres above ground. The Pavilion's interior will be clad in cork, a sustainable building material chosen for its unique qualities and to echo the excavated earth. 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, 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."

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.

The 2012 Pavilion has been purchased by Usha and Lakshmi N. Mittal and will enter their private collection after it closes to the public in October 2012.

Herzog & de Meuron
Born in Basel in 1950, Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron studied architecture at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH) from 1970 to 1975 with Aldo Rossi and Dolf Schnebli. They received their degree in architecture in 1975 and established Herzog & de Meuron in Basel in 1978. The practice has designed a wide range of projects from the small scale of a private home to the large scale of urban design. While many of their projects are highly recognized public facilities, they have also completed several distinguished private projects such as apartment buildings, offices and factories. In many projects Herzog & de Meuron have worked with artists, an eminent example of that practice being their collaboration with Ai Weiwei which resulted in the design of three realised projects to date including the Beijing National Stadium. Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron are visiting professors at the Harvard Graduate School of Design since 1994 (and in 1989). They are professors at the ETH Zurich since 1999 and co-founded the ETH Studio Basel - Contemporary City Institute in 2002.

Ai Weiwei
Chinese conceptual artist Ai Weiwei also works as an architect, photographer, curator and globally recognised human rights activist. Born in 1957 in Beijing, he began his training at Beijing Film Academy and later continued at the Parsons School of Design in New York City. His work has been exhibited around the world with solo exhibitions at Stiftung DKM, Duisburg (2010); Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2009); Haus der Kunst, Munich (2009); Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Cambelltown Arts Center, Sydney (2008); and the Groninger Museum, Groningen (2008), and participation in the 48th Venice Biennale in Italy (1999, 2008, 2010); Guangzhou Triennale in China (2002, 2005), Busan Biennial in  Korea (2006), Documenta 12 in Germany (2007), and the 29th Sao Paulo Biennial in Brazil (2010). In October 2010, Ai Weiwei's "Sunflower Seeds" was installed in the Tate Modern Turbine Hall, London. Ai Weiwei participated in the Serpentine Gallery's China Power Station exhibition in 2006, and the Serpentine Gallery Map Marathon in 2010.

The Pavilion is Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei’s first collaborative built structure in the UK. Until 17 October 2012

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