Design Notebook by Sias SA

On Digs and Traces

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Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012
Designed by Herzog & de Meuron & Ai Weiwei
© 2012, by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei

Since 2000, Serpentine Gallery London has been running Serpentine Pavilion project, an annual commission to outstanding architects to produce and complete a design for a pavilion sited at the Gallery’s lawn for a three month period. Launched with a design by Zaha Hadid, the project has proved to be a unique platform for elaboration and experimentation on architectural production. This year’s commission was granted to the team responsible for the Beijing National Stadium, built for the 2008 Olympic Games, Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei.

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Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012
Designed by Herzog & de Meuron & Ai Weiwei
© 2012, by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei

For their first collaborative structure in the UK, the team decided to reflect on hidden traces from previous pavilion structures. In taking an archaeological approach to the project the creators make a dig on the site until they start to uncover former foundations, cable and piping structures, all remains of the eleven pavilions built between 2000 and 2011. They reconstruct the foundations of every single pavilion forming a cork-cladded landscape and then extrude a new structure on each one of them. The eleven elements, plus one representing the new pavilion, bear the roof, actually a rain-water collector. The roof floats a few feet above the grass, so that everyone can see the sky reflected on its surface. For special occasions, the water can be drained from the roof, creating a dry platform to serve even as a dance floor, as Herzog and de Meuron and Ai Weiwei stated.

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Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012
Designed by Herzog & de Meuron & Ai Weiwei
© 2012, by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei

source: Serpentine Gallery