Serpentine Pavilion Goes Underground
This year’s Serpentine Pavilion was designed by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei. “Taking an archaeological approach, the architects have created a semi-submerged design, drawing on the eleven previous Pavilions as their starting point. Twelve differently-shaped columns, eleven signifying the previous Pavilion designs and one unique to the current Pavilion, support a floating platform roof that collects rainwater and reflects the ever-changing sky. Going beneath the surface reveals an interior clad in cork, chosen for its sensory qualities that echo the excavated earth. Creating a public space that is not quite above or below, earth or sky, this year’s Pavilion will inspire visitors to look beneath the surface and back in time”.
While addressing the Pavilion’s concept and their collaborative approaches, Herzog, de Meuron and Sugimoto explored ways in which art and architecture are relevant to today’s society. Herzog & de Meuron emphasised the full freedom they give when working with artists and trusting them fully to make decisions e.g. about colour. In their opinion artist have more sensitivity and expertise about the use of colours. They mentioned several times how collaboration adds value to their work.
The concept of underground space that reveals local history rooted in the idea of memory is extremely relevant. However, London wet and cold summer made the space feel uninviting and too dark based on my experience. Ai Weiwei’s use of cork as the inside material was very successful adding warmth, comfort and intimacy to the space.