Every year, design and art lovers alike eagerly anticipate the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion. The pavilion draws crowds who often go simply to see the structure. This year, the honor of constructing the temporary pavilion goes to the Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron and Chinese artist/architect Ai Weiwei.
These visionaries of course collaborated together before on the National Stadium (fondly referred to by locals as the Bird’s Nest) in Beijing for the city’s Summer Olympics held in 2008. For their contribution, the designers decided to explore the twelve-year history of the pavilion. On approach to the pavilion, visitors will be met by a truncated circular platform standing at a height of 1.4 meters. The platform will collect rainwater and act as a reflecting pool (perhaps keeping the spying eyes of satellites unawares of the goings on below?). This pool can be drained to hold events. Eleven pillars, symbolizing the predecessors to the current pavilion, will be erected with a12th supporting the platform and representing the current one. Ramps and stairs will lead down to an offset hollow 5 feet below ground level. This is where the real exploration of the Pavilion’s past will take place. The foundations of the previous structure will be uncovered and reconstructed turning it into an effective archaeological dig. The convoluted lines will intersect and merge to form a chaotic landscape of seats and paths. This subterranean space will be lined in cork to pad bums and further the sense of a dig.
Although the history of the pavilion has been brief, much has happened in the 12 years since its first conception and this interpretation perhaps also reflects the pace of change in recent years.