Ai Weiwei’s life and career gets a positive surge with the recent announcement of his collaboration with Herzog & de Meuron as part of an annual commission for the Serpentine Gallery’s temporary pavilion for the London cultural Olympiad. The Serpentine has commissioned temporary pavilions since 2000. Other starchitects previously commissioned include Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, Daniel Libeskind, Frank Gehry and the late Oscar Niemeyer.
This is not the first time Weiwei has teamed up with Herzog & de Meuron having worked together four years earlier on the now famous Bird’s nest for the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
A floating roof platform will be supported by twelve columns with water as a primary feature of the design. The roof of the pavilion will be barely five feet off of the ground and it is planned to dig a few feet deep into the soil below so that visitors can walk beneath. The primary purpose of the roof, other than to protect from the elements is to collect rainwater.
“On the foundations of each single Pavilion, we extrude a new structure (supports, walls) as load-bearing 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 some five 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.”
After a successful exhibition of 100 million porcelain sunflower seeds at the Tate Modern in 2010, Weiwei has been plagued by a litany of accusations in China. He has been arrested, detained and interrogated by Chinese officials for ‘tax offences’. At this stage it is unknown whether he will be allowed to leave the country for the launch of the pavilion in June.
image of Ai Weiei transferred from [http://de.wikipedia.org de.wikipedia]; Transfered from de.Wikipedia; de:Image:Ai weiwei.jpg by User:Oxxo
image of Bird’s Nest http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Beijing_national_stadium.jpg; Peter23