theaster gates’ serpentine pavilion 2022


chicago-based artist theaster gates has revealed details of his design for the serpentine pavilion 2022. named ‘black chapel’, the pavilion will be a sanctuary-like environment for reflection and communion featuring an oculus as the single source of light. the design draws inspiration from the bottle-shaped pottery kilns of stoke-on-trent, paying homage to british craft and manufacturing traditions. 


the predominantly wooden structure will be built used sustainably-sourced materials and is designed to be fully demountable. after its time in london’s kensington gardens, the pavilion will be re-sited to a permanent location.

serpentine pavilion 2022: first look of theaster gates' black chapel
theaster gates © sara pooley

main image: serpentine pavilion 2022, black chapel, designed by theaster gates. design render, interior view. © 2022 theaster gates studio



the healing power of music


the design alludes to the performative and meditative qualities of a small chapel. ‘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 the artist.


an operating bell, originating from the demolished st. laurence church on chicago’s south side, will be placed next to the entrance of the pavilion and will be used to call, signal and announce performances and activations.


gates continued ‘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.’


conceived as a platform for participation, live performances, with an emphasis on music and public engagement, black chapel will continue the artist’s ongoing practice of space-making through urban and architectural interventions.


bettina korek, chief executive, and hans ulrich obrist, artistic director, commented, ‘we are honored to undertake this remarkable project with leading visual artist theaster gates. 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.’


realized with the architectural support of adjaye associates, the 21st edition of the serpentine pavilion will open to the public in london on june 10th, 2022.



project info:


name: serpentine pavilion 2022 – black chapel
location: kensington gardens, hyde park, london, UK
design: theaster gates