The design team responsible for the celebrated Beijing National Stadium, which was built for the 2008 Olympic Games and won the prestigious RIBA Lubetkin Prize, will come together again in London in 2012 in a special development of the Serpentine’s acclaimed annual commission. Open from June to October 2012, the Pavilion will be presented as part of the London 2012 Festival, the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad. The Pavilion will be Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei’s first collaborative built structure in the UK.
Together they will create the 2012 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion. It will be the twelfth commission in the Gallery’s annual series, the world’s first and most ambitious architectural programme of its kind.
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.
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.