At Chetwoods we often take trips out of our Studio to visit the work of our peers and other creatives in the wider industry. We find the sessions aid our creativity and we often like to draw or create architectural models at the sites we visit. Our latest Studio Expedition was to the Serpentine Pavilion 2022.

Black Chapel has been designed by Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates and is situated in the grounds of the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens.

The building is for contemplation and communal gathering, with benches for visitors to sit on to contemplate the design. However, we collectively decided that lying on the floor and looking up at the sky moving above the oculus was the best way to experience the space.

The structure of Black Chapel references the bottle kilns of Stoke-on-Trent, the beehive kilns of the Western United States, San Pietro and Roman tempiettos, and traditional African structures, such as the Musgum mud huts of Cameroon, and the Kasubi Tombs of Kampala, Uganda. The Pavilion’s circularity and volume echo the sacred forms of Hungarian round churches and the ring shouts, voodoo circles and roda de capoeira witnessed in the sacred practices of the African diaspora.

As part of Serpentine’s summer programme, the Pavilion becomes a platform for live performances and public gatherings.

After discussing the design of the Pavilion, we sat in the Serpentine grounds and undertook a ‘build a pavilion’ workshop using paper, plasticine and bamboo skewers that we’d brought with us. We split into teams and enjoyed modelling our ideas, which considered the space we had just visited.

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