“As we dig down into the earth to reach the groundwater, we encounter a diversity of constructed realities such as telephone cables, remains of former foundations or backfills. Like a team of archaeologists, we identify these physical fragments as the remains of the eleven Pavilions built between 2000 and 2011” ~ Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei, from their Architects’ Statement
Inspired by the footprints of the previous eleven Pavilions, the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012 playfully revisits the commission’s history since 2000 through its intricate design
Out of the many different shapes created by the foundations of former Pavilions, a distinctive pattern emerges unlike anything that could have been invented. Using this ‘jumble’ of line and contour, Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei have created a design that testifies to the existence of all eleven former Pavilions, existing both as a concrete shape and a palimpsest of invisible objects.
How to use: Please explore the history of the Pavilion using the footprints above
To discover more about the ideas behind this year’s Pavilion design, please read our Architects’ Statement.
Previous architects of the Pavilion commission:
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2011
by Peter Zumthor
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2010
by Jean Nouvel
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2009
by Kazuyo Sejima & Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2008
by Frank Gehry
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2007
by Olafur Eliasson and Kjetil Thorsen
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2006
by Rem Koolhaas and Cecil Balmond, with Arup
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2005
by Alvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura with Cecil Balmond – Arup
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2003
by Oscar Niemeyer
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2002
by Toyo Ito and Cecil Balmond, with Arup
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2001 Eighteen Turns
by Daniel Libeskind with Arup
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2000
by Zaha Hadid
‘Every year since 2000, a different architect has been responsible for creating the Serpentine Gallery’s Summer Pavilion for Kensington Gardens. That makes eleven Pavilions so far; our contribution is the twelfth. 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 another object, a concrete shape. Our path to an alternative solution involves digging down some five feet into the soil of the park until we reach the groundwater. There we dig a waterhole, a kind of well, to collect all of the London rain that falls in the area of the Pavilion. In that way we incorporate an otherwise invisible aspect of reality in the park – the water under the ground – into our Pavilion. As we dig down into the earth to reach the groundwater, we encounter a diversity of constructed realities, such as telephone cables, remains of former foundations or backfills.
Like a team of archaeologists, we identify these physical fragments as the remains of the eleven Pavilions built between 2000 and 2011. Their shapes vary: circular, long and narrow, dot-shaped as well as large hollows. These remnants testify to the existence of the former Pavilions and their more or less invasive interventions into the natural environment of the park.
All of these traces of former Pavilions will now be revealed and reconstructed. The former foundations and footprints form a jumble of convoluted lines, like a sewing pattern. A distinctive landscape emerges that is unlike anything we could have invented; its form and shape is actually a serendipitous gift. The plastic reality of this landscape is astonishing and it is also the perfect place to sit, stand, lie down or just look and be awed. In other words, it is the ideal environment for continuing to do what visitors have been doing in the Serpentine Gallery Pavilions over the past eleven years. The pavilion’s interior is clad in cork – a natural material with great haptic and olfactory qualities and the versatility to be carved, cut, shaped and formed.
On the foundations of each single Pavilion, we extrude a new structure (supports, walls, slices) as load-bearing elements for the roof of our Pavilion – eleven supports all told, plus our own column, which we place at will, like a wild card. The roof resembles that of an archaeological site. It floats a few feet above the grass of the park, so that everyone visiting can see the water on its surface reflecting the infinitely varied, atmospheric skies of London. For special events, the water can be drained off the roof as from a bathtub, from whence it flows back into the waterhole, the deepest point in the Pavilion landscape. The dry roof can then be used as a dance floor or simply as a platform suspended above the park.’
Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei, May 2012