Thursday24 August 2017

Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei's Serpentine Pavilion opens

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Jacques Herzog invokes Olympic spirit - but no mention of the disappearing foundations

The 12th Serpentine Pavilion has been opened at a ceremony attended by its architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron.

Their co-designer, Ai Weiwei, was unable to attend as he is still subject to a 12-month travel ban imposed by the Chinese authorities.

Instead the artist and dissident - who was detained for 81 days last year on trumped-up charges - addresseed the ceremony through a pre-recorded video.

Ai and Herzog and de Meuron previously collaborated on the Bird’s Nest stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Herzog told the guests they were proud to have created a public space where citizens can congregate freely in a country whose human rights record lagged behind that achieved in the west after centuries of fighting.

There was no mention of the controversy surrounding their Serpentine pavilion. They originally promised to uncover and explore the foundations of the previous 11 pavilions. But excavations revealed there were no remains to be uncovered since Royal Parks rules insist that all traces be removed.

Serpentine Gallery co-director Hans Ulrich Obrist said it was fitting that the three should be reunited to work on a project in London in the city’s Olympic year.

But BD’s executive editor Ellis Woodman, who attended the opening ceremony, regretted that the Serpentine’s original vision of giving a platform to promising young architects had been turned into a “Top Trumps exercise in collecting the most famous architectural talent”.

He said: “This year’s pavilion has this feeling of having been a back-of-the-envelope sketch which has been translated by an office junior.

“This conceipt that the form has emerged through archaeological investigation really doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. In reality everything is clad in cork.”



Readers' comments (17)

  • zecks_marquise

    Well at least it will float when the flood comes

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  • does it match the CGI?

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  • It certainly doesn't seem to have much of the interest and invention that previous pavilions have had. Perhaps it's intended to be unmemorable, as transient as the non-existant foundations...

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  • Its a pond, how nice. With champagne corks below. Must be the left overs from the opening celebrations of the previous pavilions.

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  • Must say I expected better from such a good architect and artists combo. It's a bit....dull.

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  • Munter Roe

    Symbolic of nature reclaiming the earth from mans destructive influence.

    Global warming is a con.

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  • What's wrong with you all...it's beautiful.

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  • Well put, Ellis Woodman.

    It would also appear that the pond is supported on rather a large volume of hot air...

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  • Credit where credit is due:
    It is a beautiful installation.
    However, Ellis Woodman's comment re young architectural talent to be involved in the design of the pavillons should be taken seriously.

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  • Now that we have more pictures oto look at I'm still perplexed by where the "architecture" is. Why the arbitrary slicing off of part of the circle? Why not a more elegant edge detail? Why the seemingly afterthought of a lighting system with ugly exposed wiring and globular bulkhead lights? Imagine how much more exciting the lighting would have been with hundreds of inset LED spotlights in the floor bouncing off a more interesting soffit, and constantly changing as people walk through the space. Why...

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