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In pictures: Ai Weiwei and Herzog & de Meuron complete Serpentine Pavilion

The Serpentine Gallery’s 2012 pavilion designed by Herzog & de Meuron and dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has been unveiled in London

The much-anticipated ‘pop-up’ structure takes visitors beneath the gallery’s lawn to explore the subterranean remains of past pavilion’s foundations.

The design is the twelfth pavilion completed for the gallery’s annual commission. This year’s scheme bends the Serpentine’s own rules by allowing a practice which had already built in the UK - albeit in collaboration with artist Weiwei who has yet to complete a building in this country - to design the high-profile project.

Stirling Prize-winning outfit Herzog & de Meuron and Weiwei’s scheme features 11 columns – one for each past Pavilion – alongside a twelfth column representing the current structure. Together they support a floating platform roof 1.4 metres above ground

The interior is clad in cork and the roof features a reflecting pool.

Previous story 08.05.12

Revealed: Ai Weiwei and Herzog & de Meuron Serpentine Pavilion proposals

The Serpentine Gallery has released plans for its 2012 pavilion designed by Herzog & de Meuron and dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei

The much-anticipated scheme will be the twelfth in the Gallery’s annual series and this year’s temporary structure will take visitors beneath the Serpentine’s lawn, in Kensington Gardens, London.

The team’s ‘archaeological’ proposals for this year’s pavilion will ‘explore the hidden history’ by digging 1.5m under the Serpentine lawn to discover the remains of the gallery’s previous, temporary structures designed by the likes of Peter Zumthor, Zaha Hadid and Jean Nouvel. The design features 11 columns to mark each of the past pavilions which, together  with an additional 12th column, will support a platform roof ‘resembling that of an archaeological site’.

The appointment of Herzog and de Meuron earlier this year (AJ 07.02.2012) marks a departure from the gallery’s usual selection policy of working with architects who had not built in the UK before.

The Swiss-based startchitects have already overseen the overhaul of the Tate Modern and won the Stirling Prize for the Laban Dance Centre in Deptford.

Julia Peyton-Jones, director, and Hans Ulrich Obrist, co-director, Serpentine Gallery, said: ‘It is a great honour to be working with Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei, the design team behind Beijing’s superb Bird’s Nest Stadium. In this exciting year for London we are proud to be creating a connection between the Beijing 2008 and the London 2012 Games. We are enormously grateful for the help of everyone involved, especially Usha and Lakshmi N Mittal, whose incredible support has made this project possible.’

Intriguingly the 2012 pavilion has been bought by steel magnate Lakshmi N Mittal and his wife Usha and will enter their private collection after it closes to the public in October 2012.

Across the capital, the Indian-born billionaire is funding the ArcelorMittal Orbit - a 115m-high observation tower in the Olympic Park in Stratford, London designed by Anish Kapoor.

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