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Serpentine Gallery Pavillion 2012

Over 80 m3 of cork to cover the entire underground space, projected by the Herzog & de Meuron architectural office and the artist Ai Weiwei. Case Studies

The Serpentine galleries, in the heart of London, challenges renowned architectural firms every year to design and build temporary pavilions to host special summer events open to the public.

The raw material chosen for the 12th edition was cork. (Over 80 m3 of this material was supplied by Amorim Cork Composites). The authorship of the work – which chose cork to cover the entire underground space - was by the Herzog & de Meuron architectural office and the artist Ai Weiwei.

The beginning of this project, entitled Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, dates back to 2000 when the 1st pavilion was built.

Main Goal

In the 2012 Serpentine Pavilion, Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei took an archaeological approach and designed a pavilion that inspires visitors to look beneath the surface, at its structure. They elected cork because of its acoustic properties and sensory characteristics (especially those linked to touch and smell).

The authors of the project intended to invite the public to take a step back in time, through the legacy of the eleven previous editions of this Serpentine Gallery initiative. The eleven pillars representing each preceding pavilion were joined by another representing the current structure (that supports a floating platform) at a height above the ground of only 1.5 metres.

This site operates as a cultural space open to the public, which hosts multiple initiatives. It is also a space that invites conviviality and a break to socialise, offering comfort and a good environment.

The pavilion of this edition attracted nearly 750,000 visitors.

Three of the most important creators of the world devised a unique work, able to cause a multisensory experience in the visitor. 

serpentine-gallery-new.jpg

The pavilion of this edition attracted nearly 750,000 visitors.

Three of the most important creators of the world devised a unique work, able to cause a multisensory experience in the visitor. 

Solution

The 2012 Serpentine Pavilion presents itself as a cork lounge, circular in shape with a multi-level complex structure in which 108 pieces of expanded agglomerated cork furniture proliferate, specifically designed by Ai Weiwei and Herzog and de Meuron for this purpose and hand carved by technicians of Amorim, with the supervision of the team of architects.

“On the foundations of each single pavilion, we extrude a new structure (supports, walls) as load-bearing elements for the roof of our pavilion (...)”

Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei

Advantages

  • 100% recycclable
  • Aesthetics
  • Acoustic comfort
  • Thermal comfort
“This pavilion responds to the history of previous pavilions on the site and imagines an archaeological dig through the remnants of structures past. The landscape created by the dig – the interior of the pavilion, which contains seating for visitors and events – is lined in cork to create a soft, surreal environment (…).”

Elias Redstone, New York Times

“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.”

Julia Peyton-Jones, Director of Serpentine Gallery

Product

The product used in the design of this work was cork agglomerate. This material is easily mouldable, resulting in geometrically different solutions that harmoniously coexist in the same space.

“This partnership is the result of an unceasing commitment by Corticeira Amorim to promote worldwide the unbeatable technical and sustainability credentials of this natural material. Seeing cork applied in an architectural project with this impact and one of impeccable aesthetics is both a source of pride and a unique opportunity to demonstrate to the world that cork is not just a unique product created by nature, but also a material that is technologically relevant to the twenty-first century.
I am therefore very pleased with the projection that cork obtained from this iconic project of world architecture. It is expected that this use will drive greater international recognition for cork, a raw material that we daily strive to raise the value of.”

António Rios de Amorim, President of Corticeira Amorim

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