Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei is reuniting with the Swiss architects with whom he created Beijing’s spectacular Bird’s Nest Stadium, to build a pavilion for this year’s London Olympics.
Ai, along with the Swiss firm Herzog and de Meuron, will join forces again to design a pavilion for the Serpentine Gallery in London’s Kensington Gardens park, the gallery said on Tuesday. “It is a great honour to be working with Herzog and de Meuron and Ai Weiwei,” said gallery director Julia Peyton-Jones. “We are delighted that our annual commission will bring this unique architectural collaboration to Europe to mark the continuity between the Beijing 2008 and the London 2012 Games.”
In a joint statement, Ai and the architects said the project would involve digging some five feet (1.5 metres) into the park’s soil to collect rainwater, which would be incorporated into the design. Britain’s Guardian newspaper said Ai had been coordinating the project with the architects using online phone service Skype.
Ai — whose activism has made him a thorn in the side of China’s communist authorities — disappeared into custody for 81 days last year as police rounded up dissidents and lawyers amid online calls for Arab-style protests in China.