Slideshow: Ai Weiwei and the 2012 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion

The team behind the 2008 Beijing Bird’s Nest Olympic stadium are at it again. Herzog & de Meuron joined forces with Ai Weiwei to create this summer's commissioned installation at the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in London.


The installation invites visitors to explore the inner workings of the exhibit below the surface. The cork interior is protected by a platform that sits five feet above the ground. It gathers rainwater and creates a reflection pool to capture the changing colors of the sky. The designers made it a point to pay tribute to its predecessors. The 12 supporting beams represents each of the previous commissioned designs and the interior's contour is inspired by layering the foundations of the former Pavilions. 

The Pavilion is presented as part of the London 2012 Festival, which is a series of events and performances that celebrates the 2012 Summer Olympics. 

While Ai had a heavy hand in the design, he will not visit the installation. He is under investigation for pornography and bigamy in China and is prohibited from leaving the country. This won't be the first time Ai missed out on the Olympic festivities. Although he contributed to the Beijing National Stadium's Bird's Nest design, Ai distanced himself from the project, withdrew 2008 Beijing Olympics opening ceremony and criticized the event for its "pretend smile" to the outside world.

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