From Icon to Diagram: Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012, Herzog & De Meuron and Ai Weiwei

Lluís J. Liñán

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The broad semantic field that stems from the fruitful interaction between architecture and representation can be projected onto two separate surfaces. The first one deals with the symbolic function of buildings, that is, with their mandate to represent a particular system of values. The second, in turn, deals with the documents of architectural design –plans, sections or visualizations–, partial representations that anticipate and mediate the construction of buildings.
The 2012 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, designed by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei, was conceived as a response to the dual nature of architectural representation as stated above. On the one hand, it is a building that intended to negate the symbolic essence of the commission, devoted to the promotion of the most innovative contemporary architecture, by avoiding the generation of an iconic solution. On the other, it is a building that stems from a design process based on the instrumentalization of the drawings of previous pavilions, in a way its geometry can be traced back to the intersection of their plans. Thus, it is through the combination of precedent representations that the designers tried to hinder the symbolism of a building that is mostly conceived for media purposes.

Palabras clave

Serpentine Gallery; Herzog & de Meuron; Ai Weiwei; Representation; Appropriation


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