BLACK CHAPEL - SERPENTINE PAVILLION 2022
THEASTER GATES - ADJAYE ASSOCIATES
Conceived as a platform for shared emotional and spiritual experience, the 21st Serpentine
Pavillion is designed by Theaster Gates in collaboration with Adjaye Associates and is a place
where the artist's hand and sensitivity are clearly distinguishable.
It is a space where Gates reflects on the "power of sound and music as a healing mechanism
and emotional force that allows people to enter a space of deep reflection and / or deep
participation" and a place of stillness and silence immersed in the frenzy of the urban
Its title, Black Chapel, suggests the transcendental atmosphere that characterises the
architectural experience designed. That is explicitly inspired by the Rothko Chapel, to which the
pictorial cycle created by the artist for this location, directly refers, using the craft techniques
taught to him by his father.
From the outside, it is a 10 metres tall black cylindrical volume made of sustainably-sourced
black timber, while inside is a spacious room with wraparound benches and light that penetrates
from an oculus above, recreating an environment similar to a sanctuary.
Its cylindrical design pays homage to British craftsmanship and manufacturing reminiscent of
the bottle ovens from Stroke on Trent, but at the same time alludes to West American beehive
ovens and traditional African building structures. The oculus, the only source of light for the
structure, obviously refers to the Pantheon and facilitates the dialogue of the structure with time
and the surrounding environment.
The structure is fully demountable and reusable, to minimise its carbon footprint and