It’s designed by Theaster Gates and Adjaye Associates to have that effect, to draw people in the park towards it – whether they came to see it, were out for a jog or to meet friends for a picnic. It’s called the Black Chapel and, like all chapels, its architecture calls to people so they can escape the everyday and enter a different space.
While it’s imposing on the outside, by contrast it’s comforting on the inside – the sounds of conversations echo around the space, bouncing off the walls so it’s alive with conversation. It’s been designed by the artist to be a space for gathering, meditation and performance. A bell outside will activate the performances, much like the ringing of church bells. The bell itself is sourced from a church that once stood in Chicago’s South Side, both referencing the artist’s home town and the fact that there’s a decline in places for people to commune with each other, and spiritually.
There are clear links to Christianity but the design of the space as a round structure makes it welcoming for all, and the skylight in the centre of the roof also allows a connection with nature. We imagine it must be particularly magical when it rains to be inside and watch the drops fall into the space which contains Gates’ paintings that are made using roofing techniques – a reference to his father who was a roofer.
Architecturally, this structure is a lot simpler and starker than previous incarnations of the Serpentine Pavilion. However, its imposing exterior will draw people to it and the darkened interior will give refuge to those escaping the sun and the worries of life – it’s this mix of accessibility and transformative qualities that makes for a successful pavilion.
|What||Serpentine Pavilion, 2022, by Theaster Gates|
|Where||Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, London, W2 3XA | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Knightsbridge (underground)|
10 Jun 22 – 16 Oct 22, 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
|Website||Click here for more information|