By Design: London’s 2012 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion
This summer marks a rare opportunity to see not only the Summer Games in London but also a temporary pavilion established there as part of an annual architecture programme.
The place: 2012 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, London
The backstory: The Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens is dedicated to modern and contemporary art. In a bold programme initiated 12 years ago, the gallery annually commissions one of the world’s top architectural teams to design a temporary pavilion for the summer months. This year, the designers are Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron and Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who also collaborated on the “Bird’s Nest,” the National Stadium for the Beijing Olympic Games. The pavilion—serving as public space by day, venue for talks and events by night—will remain open through October 14.
The beauty: A reflecting pool suspended above ground shelters a gently excavated landscape meant to reimagine the foundations and shapes of the previous 11 pavilions. Its ledges, benches, ramps and steps are entirely lined in cork, for acoustics and for welcoming softness. Beneath a watery disc reflecting the sky, where better to contemplate history, and memory, and modernity?
Fun fact: Diana, Princess of Wales, who lived facing the Serpentine in Kensington Palace, was the gallery’s patron. She is honoured at its entrance by an installation of benches and stonework inscribed with meditative poetry.
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