Visuals have been revealed for the 21st edition of the annual Serpentine Pavilion competition, a drum-shaped structure titled Black Chapel that has been designed by Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates with Adjaye Associates.


Serpentine Pavilion 2022, Black Chapel, designed by Theaster Gates. Design render, exterior view. © 2022 Theaster Gates Studio

The cylindrical pavilion will be lit by a singular oculus and is based on the qualities of a chapel, as well as the pottery kilns of Stoke-on-Trent.

It has been designed by Theaster Gates with the architectural support of Adjaye Associates to provide a “sancturary-like” environment in the heart of the city and will be used to host a range of cultural events. A bell taken from the demolished St. Laurence Church on Chicago’s South Side will be located at the entrance of the pavilion and used to signal the beginning of events and performances.

“The name Black Chapel is important because it reflects the invisible parts of my artistic practice. It acknowledges the role that sacred music and the sacred arts have had on my practice, and the collective quality of these emotional and communal initiatives,” said Theaster Gates.

“Black Chapel also suggests that in these times there could be a space where one could rest from the pressures of the day and spend time in quietude. I have always wanted to build spaces that consider the power of sound and music as a healing mechanism and emotive force that allows people to enter a space of
deep reflection and/or deep participation.”


Serpentine Pavilion 2022, Black Chapel, designed by Theaster Gates. Design render, interior view. © 2022 Theaster Gates Studio

Gates was selected to design the 2022 pavilion by Serpentine Artistic Director Hans Ulrich Obrist, CEO Bettina Korek, Director of Construction and Special Projects Julie Burnell, Director of Curatorial Affairs and Public Practice Yesomi Umolu, and Project Curator Natalia Grabowska with advisors Sir David Adjaye OBE and David Glover.

“One of the most significant voices working today, Gates’ praxis combines formalism, conceptualism and powerful impact felt throughout the communities in which he works and beyond. We look forward to welcoming visitors to Black Chapel as a platform for engagement, spirituality and togetherness,” said Korek Ulrich Obrist.

Black Chapel will be open to the public from 10 June – 16 October 2022 and used to host Park Nights, a programme of live music, poetry, dance and education events. After the pavilion’s closure, the fully demountable structure will be relocated to an as yet undisclosed permanent setting.

Last year’s Serpentine Pavilion was designed by Sumayya Vally of Johannesburg-based studio Counterspace. It spliced together forms taken from meeting spaces – from bookshops to markets and places of worship – significant to migrant communities in London.

Other iterations of the Serpentine Pavilion have been designed by architects Frida Escobedo, Francis Kéré, Junya Ishigama and Smiljan Radic, which is now located in the gardens of Hauser & Wirth Somerset in Bruton.