Olafur Eliasson’s deep-rooted interest in spatial questions, explored in his artistic practice, has resulted in an increasing engagement with architectural projects. This has led to Kjetil Thorsen and Olafur Eliasson collaborating on a number of projects, including the National Opera House, Oslo, and a recently submitted competition proposal for a new Museum of Contemporary Art in Warsaw.
The expansion of the Serpentine Pavilion design team to include a visual artist is the development of a format that started in 2006 when Pavilion designers Rem Koolhaas and Cecil Balmond, with Arup, collaborated with the artist Thomas Demand, whose solo exhibition in the Serpentine Gallery was concurrent with the Pavilion. The result was a visual motif, in the form of a large-scale frieze within the Pavilion, which created an explicit link between the Serpentine’s art and architecture programming strands.
Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson is based in Berlin where he established Studio Olafur Eliasson, a laboratory for spatial research. His work explores the relationship between individual people and their surroundings, as experienced in his awe-inspiring large-scale installation The weather project, 2003, at Tate Modern. He is also publisher of a new magazine that melds artistic and architectural experimentation. His architectural projects include a rooftop extension at ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Denmark; a plan for The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, The Smithsonian Institution’s museum of modern and contemporary art in Washington DC and a recent façade design for The Icelandic National Concert and Conference Centre in Reykjavik, due for completion in 2009. Kjetil Thorsen is co-founder of Snøhetta, one of Scandinavia's leading architectural practices, with offices in Oslo and New York. The Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Egypt, 1995 - 2001, is the commission that brought Snøhetta to international acclaim. Thorsen is responsible for the design of award-winning public buildings globally, and has collaborated with Eliasson several times, including the National Opera House, Oslo, currently under construction. He is a founder of Galleri Rom, Oslo, which focuses on the intersection of architecture and art, and is a member of the Norwegian Architectural Association (NAL) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA). He is also Professor at the Institute for Experimental Studies in Architecture at the University of Innsbruck, Austria.The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion commission, now entering its eighth year, is an ongoing programme of temporary structures by internationally acclaimed architects and individuals. It is unique worldwide and presents the work of an international architect or design team who, at the time of the Serpentine Gallery's invitation, has not completed a building in the UK. The Pavilion architects to date are Rem Koolhaas and Cecil Balmond, with Arup, 2006; Álvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura with Cecil Balmond, Arup, 2005; MVRDV with Arup, 2004- (un-realised); Oscar Niemeyer, 2003; Toyo Ito with Arup, 2002; Daniel Libeskind with Arup, 2001; and Zaha Hadid, 2000.
As part of the expansion of the Serpentine Gallery’s programme, the architecture strand this year also included Lilas, an installation commissioned from Zaha Hadid Architects and designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid, and Patrik Schumacher, on the occasion of the Gallery’s world-renowned fundraiser The Summer Party, which took place on 11 July.