400 SERPENTINE GALLERY PAVILION

400
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion
Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei
Kensington Gardens, London, UK
Project and realization 2011-2012, 1 June – 14 October 2012

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 an 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 remains of the eleven Pavilions built between 2000 and 2011. Their shape varies: circular, long and narrow, dot shaped and also large, constructed hollows that have been filled in. These remnants testify to the existence of the former Pavilions and their more or less invasive intervention in 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 which 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, 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 loadbearing elements for the roof of our Pavilion – eleven supports all told, plus our own column that we can 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 it, 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, 2012

FACTS

Herzog & de Meuron Team:
Partners: Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron
Project Team: Ben Duckworth (Associate, Project Director), Christoph Zeller (Project Manager), Wim Walschap (Associate)
Liam Ashmore, Mai Komuro, Martin Nässèn, John O'Mara (Associate)

Ai Weiwei Team:
Ai Weiwei
Project Team: E-Shyh Wong, Inserk Yang

Client:
Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, London, UK

Client Representatives:
Julia Peyton-Jones, Director
Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-Director
Julie Burnell, Project Leader
Sophie O’Brien, Project Organiser

Project Advisors:
Lord Palumbo, Chairman, Serpentine Board of Trustees
Paul Lewis, Head of Operations, Stanhope Plc
Peter Rogers, Director, Stanhope Plc
Colin Buttery, Director of Parks, Royal Parks Agency
Ray Brodie, Parks Superintendent, Royal Parks Agency
Westminster City Council Planning Office
Jenny Wilson, Westminster City Council (Licensing Authority)
Hassan Lashkariani, Westminster City Council (Building Control)
London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority

Usha and Lakshmi N. Mittal purchased the 2012 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion. It has entered their collection after it closed to the public on 14 October 2012.

Planning:
Architect: Herzog & de Meuron, London, UK
Project & Construction Mangement: RISE (Gareth Stapleton), London, UK
Structural, Plumbing, Electrical Engineering: Arup (Stuart Smith, Chris Neighbour), London, UK
Cost Consultant: Gleeds, Tunbridge Wells, UK

Specialist / Consulting:
Fire Protection: Arup (Stuart Smith, Chris Neighbour), London, UK
Safety Consulting: EC Harris, London, UK
Site Security: Elliott Thomas Group
Town Planning Consultants: DP9 (Barnaby Collins, James Penfold), London, UK
Landscaping: The Landscape Group Ltd
Surveying and Site Set-out: SES
Construction Equipment: Laing O’Rourke

Building Data:
Overall Site Area: 660sqm
Building Footprint: 435sqm including roof overhanging lawn
Dimension of Pavilion: 400sqm footprint of excavation circle; 11.25m radius footprint of excavation circle; 305sqm roof area; 10m roof radius;
1.1 m to 1. 4m max.height above lawn ground; 2.1 m to 2.7 m min.clear height within Pavilion
Gross Floor Area (GF): 415sqm

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Luis Fernández-Galiano (Ed.): Arquitectura Viva Monografías. Herzog & de Meuron 2005-2013.
Vol. No. 157/158, Madrid, Arquitectura Viva SL, 09.2012.

Claude Parent: In Profondità. In the Depth.
In: Mario Piazza (Ed.). Abitare. Reading the designed Environment. Vol. No. 524, Milan, RCS MediaGroup S.p.A., 07.2012. pp. 78-85.

Joseph Grima: Serpentine Gallery Pavilion. Herzog & de Meuron, Ai Weiwei.
In: Joseph Grima (Ed.). Domus. Contemporary Architecture, Interiors, Design, Art. Vol. No. 960, Milan, Domus S.p.A., 07.2012. pp. 74-79.

Edwin Heathcote: A real Corker. Spongy, mouldy, magnificent: this Year's Serpentine Pavilion is a Meditation on Memory.
In: Financial Times. London, The Financial Times Ltd, 02.06.2012. p. 9.

Herzog & de Meuron + Ai Weiwei. Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012.
Edited by: Sophie O'Brien with Melissa Larner and Claire Feeley. Exh. Cat. Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012. Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, London, Great Britain. 1 June - 14 October 2012. London, Koenig Books / Serpentine Gallery, 2012.

Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron, Ai Weiwei, Julia Peyton-Jones, Hans Ulrich Obrist: A Conversation. Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron and Ai Weiwei with Julia Peyton-Jones and Hans Ulrich-Obrist.
In: Sophie O'Brien with Melissa Larner and Claire Feeley (Eds.). Herzog & de Meuron + Ai Weiwei. Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012. Exh. Cat. Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012. Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, London, Great Britain. 1 June - 14 October 2012. London, Koenig Books / Serpentine Gallery, 2012. pp. 92-99.

Joseph Rykwert: Excavating the Future.
In: Sophie O'Brien with Melissa Larner and Claire Feeley (Eds.). Herzog & de Meuron + Ai Weiwei. Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012. Exh. Cat. Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012. Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, London, Great Britain. 1 June - 14 October 2012. London, Koenig Books / Serpentine Gallery, 2012. pp. 41-47.