Located in London’s Hyde Park, and named after Kensington Gardens’ Serpentine Lake, comes the latest installation to The Serpetine Gallery Pavilion, a new collaboration between Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei, and Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron. An annual summer exhibition first introduced in 2000, The Pavilion has become a platform for some of the world’s most recognized artists and architects, from Gehry to Nouvel to present a unique, temporary space, open to the public, and free of charge.
Situated five feet above the ground, the shallow reflection pool covers a comfortable cavernous space, supported by eleven columns, intended to represent Pavilion’s of past (no Pavilion was constructed in 2004). Below ground features a comfortable sitting area, inlaid with cork, dotted with round stools and steps. Here, Weiwei, Herzog, & de Meuron’s use of cork produces a warm, earthy feel to the muted steel structure that sits on top.
Weiwei, currently under travel restriction by his native country of China since April of 2011, designed The Pavilion almost entirely over Skype with Herzog & de Mueron. Governments, museums, and artists alike have protested Wei’s persecution as an attack against the arts, while the state government has claimed Wei owes unpaid taxes. His struggle is documented intimately 2012 documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry.
This year’s Pavilion has been purchased by Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mattal and his wife, Usha. It will be retired to their collection in October.
Photo Credit: Rory WIll