The Serpentine Gallery, who have learned to master the art of generating buzz about one annual project nearly year round at this point, announcing their pick for who will design the next one just as the one before it is fading from memory, have decided to up the ante even more so this year. They’ve just announced that this year’s Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, a temporary structure set up in London’s Hyde Park, will be designed by a reunited Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei. The two had previously collaborated on Beijing’s celebrated “Bird’s Nest” National Stadium ahead of the last Olympics in 2008. Weiwei’s gradual coming out against the project over labor and human rights issues was, for those not already in the art world, their first encounter with the artist Weiwei, whose outspoken views and clashes with the Chinese government have made him one of the most well-known and powerful artists today. With the Olympics coming to London in just a few months, and Weiwei now forced to work on projects from his virtual house arrest in Beijing, whatever the two parties come up with is sure to generate some nice press and an increased general interest for the Serpentine. Here’s a bit from the press release about what it’s going to look like:
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 will support a floating platform roof 1.5 metres above ground. 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.