Preview Ai Weiwei and Herzog & de Meuron’s 2012 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion

After turning heads with their collaborative work on the “Bird’s Nest” National Stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Ai Weiwei and the Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron were selected earlier this year to design the 2012 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, an honor that has previously been bestowed on the likes of Zaha Hadid, Oscar Niemeyer, Jean Nouvel, and Frank Gehry. In a departure from previous efforts, this year’s design includes a maze-like subterranean level that is meant to function almost like an archaeological dig, exploring the 11 pavilions that preceded it.

“So many Pavilions in so many different shapes and out of so many different materials have been conceived and built that we tried instinctively to sidestep the unavoidable problem of creating an object, a concrete shape,” they explain in the press release. “All of these foundations will now be uncovered and reconstructed. The old foundations form a jumble of convoluted lines, like a sewing pattern. A distinctive landscape emerges out of the reconstructed foundations which is unlike anything we could have invented; its form and shape is actually a serendipitous gift. The three-dimensional reality of this landscape is astonishing and it is also the perfect place to sit, stand, lie down or just look and be amazed.”

Click through to check out some photos from the press preview, and if you’re in London, head to Kensington Gardens beginning tomorrow to see their amazing work in person.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012, designed by Herzog & de Meuron & Ai Weiwei © 2012, by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei. Image © 2012 Iwan Baan