~ Serpentine Pavilion 2012// Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Wei Wei

I have seen a few Serpentine pavilions in my time in London & it's always a highlight of the summer to take a look at the new pavilion & I guess you can't help but compare it to previous builds. This year's pavilion, the twelfth commission in the Gallery's annual series, is designed by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Wei Wei & it doesn't disappoint, but surprises in new ways.

Usually you can anticipate the pavilion on approach, this year's pavilion isn't visible, this Summer it's something quite different, a subterranean pavilion with a reflection pool.
On Approach to the pavilion

 The reflection pool is offset from the pavilion below so that it overhangs in places.

Every part of the cork clad pavilion below ground is cut at different angles, I get the impression that even after a few walks around it, it would take time to become familiar with it's shapes & spaces. There are some small spaces where you could sit behind a column & not be noticed for a while - which is a nice idea in the centre of London.

The Serpentine reflected in the pavilion's reflection pool

The cork clad interior with cork stools has a great textural quality
Cork stools

The contrast colour of the cork plugs is an interesting detail & highlights the stair angles

This year's pavilion is alot darker experience & perhaps I didn't see it on the sunniest of days, but the inevitable comparison of previous pavilions - particularly the lighter ones, one of my favourites being the Red pavilion designed by Jean Nouvel in 2010 invite the visitors to stay & it's always hard to even get a look in as there are so many people fighting for a spot to sit & take it in.
There are places that you could sit for a while & not be noticed

Each of the columns is a different size, shape & angle
Exposed lighting in groups of four
Cutout shapes & spaces that you find within the pavilion

I have read that each of the eleven columns is a characterisation of the previous year's pavilions & a twelfth column representing the current structure. A sort of archeological approach to the pavilion. In theory I think it's a great idea & an interesting concept, in experience it's alot darker than expected.
Open from June to October 2012
The 2012 Pavilion has been purchased by Usha and Lakshmi N. Mittal and will enter their private collection after it closes to the public in October 2012. 

All photographs © London Design Journal
See more about the Serpentine Pavilion