first images of the holy see's vatican chapels at the venice architecture biennale

first images of the holy see's vatican chapels at the venice architecture biennale

the first images have been unveiled of the vatican’s debut at the venice architecture biennale. curated by francesco dal co and micol forti, the ‘vatican chapels’ are a series of structures, which, together, form the holy see pavilion. the projects take the form of eleven chapels built on a densely wooded area of san giorgio maggiore island. beginning with a reinterpretation of erik gunnar asplund’s ‘woodland chapel’ by MAP studio, the display includes ten other ‘temples of worship’ designed by architects such as eduardo souto de moura, carla juaçaba, and norman foster (see designboom’s previous coverage here).

holy see pavilion vatican chapels
all images by alessandra chemollo



the first photographs from the 16th international architecture exhibition document the ‘asplund chapel’, designed by MAP studio and built by ALPI. conceived as a prelude to the exhibition, the structure displays asplund’s architectural drawings for the original woodland chapel — located at skogskyrkogården cemetery in sweden. measuring just 33 square meters, the pavilion refers to both the architecture of the cemetery and the appearance of cabins in natural settings.

holy see pavilion vatican chapels
the re-imagined ‘woodland chapel’ was designed by MAP studio and built by ALPI



11 meters in length and 8 meters in height, the chapel is entirely covered with wood. to clad the building, ALPI developed an experimental material made from more than 9,000 wooden shingles. meanwhile, the intimate and welcoming interior is completely covered with xilo 2.0 striped white, a material developed with the help of italian architect and designer piero lissoni.

holy see pavilion vatican chapels
the chapel’s interior is covered with a material developed with the help of piero lissoni



elsewhere, a pavilion designed by francesco cellini has also been revealed. realized with materials from ceramic specialists panariagroup, the structure comprises two interlocking volumes that contain areas of seating as well as two key liturgical elements specified in the brief: a pulpit and an altar. the vatican says that it hopes the holy see’s presence will help heal the rift between the spiritual and the secular by transmitting ‘the traditional language of faith’.


stay tuned for the reveal of the other vatican chapels, and follow designboom’s ongoing coverage of the 2018 venice architecture biennale here.

holy see pavilion vatican chapels
another pavilion has been designed by italian architect francesco cellini

holy see pavilion vatican chapels
the two interlocking volumes contain key liturgical elements

holy see pavilion vatican chapels
the structure was realized with materials from ceramic specialists panariagroup



venice architecture biennale golden lion

designboom’s coverage of the 2018 venice architecture biennale is in partnership with leading energy company edison. edison is taking part in the 16th international architecture exhibition of la biennale di venezia by initiating a path towards sustainability and the efficient use of resources. the collaboration between edison and la biennale is based on awareness that energy is one of the fundamental elements of architecture and of the places, spaces and cities of contemporary life.

    have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
    all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

    comments policy
    LOG IN
    designboom's comment policy guidelines
    generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
    the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

    what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
    let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

    - please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
    - please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
    - please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
    - please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
    - please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
    (there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
    in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
    the best 100-200 entries too.)

    a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


    a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

    architecture news

    keep up with our daily and weekly stories
    504,075 subscribers
    - see sample
    - see sample
    designboom magazine