Therme Art Program

Creative Commissions

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Refik Anadol (b. 1985, Istanbul, Turkey) is a media artist, director and pioneer in the aesthetics of data and machine intelligence. His body of work locates creativity at the intersection of humans and machines. In taking the data that flows around us as the primary material and the neural network of a computerized mind as a collaborator, Anadol paints with a thinking brush, offering us radical visualizations of our digitized memories and expanding the possibilities of architecture, narrative, and the body in motion. Anadol’s site-specific AI data sculptures, live audio/visual performances, and immersive installations take many forms, while encouraging us to rethink our engagement with the physical world, its temporal and spatial dimensions, and the creative potential of machines.

MYND and Therme Art are excited to be in collaboration with pioneering media artist, Refik Anadol, in presenting the work Sense of Healing, first unveiled at Aurora Institute’s Evening of Discovery, the inaugural event of one of the world’s leading annual gatherings for mental health philanthropy. This fruitful partnership has crystallised over the past year, and will continue to evolve over a long-term process towards the development of further ground-breaking and immersive experiences. 

Through a critical engagement with the psychological effects of contemporary urban structures, environments and systems, this ongoing project aims to create spaces of healing and regeneration. It is a partnership that endeavours to utilise transdisciplinary creative research, development and production to rethink our current approaches toward mental health, wellness and wellbeing on a global level. Harnessing the power of the latest advancements in data capturing, neuroscientific research, quantum computing and spatial development will allow us to collectively approach contemporary issues of mental wellness in new, innovative and impactful ways. 


Commissioned by MYND for UNICEF’s fourth annual Summer Gala, and first unveiled at the Aurora Institute’s Evening of Discovery, Sense of Healing lies at the intersection of neuroscience and design to visualise fundamental questions about the architecture of the human brain with cutting-edge data visualisation tools provided by neuroscience pioneer MindMaze. The multisensory, immersive work was created through interpreted datasets of brain activities collected with EEG sensors, fMRI and DTI imaging techniques with the aim of promoting mental health and supporting collective healing processes. Anadol and his studio interpreted two different data sets that were gathered as part of pioneering neuroscience company MindMaze’s research; both of which contain the human brain’s reactions to different types of personal and emotional stimuli. 

The first study collected electroencephalography (EEG) and electrocardiography (ECG) data of multiple participants as they were shown emotional music videos, and rated their subjective emotions using a visual analogue scale based on four emotion parameters: Arousal, Valence, Dominance, Love. The second captured, through functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the response of participants to both sick and healthy appearing avatars that came within peripersonal space using virtual reality. 

Using the impact of sensorial experience to highlight the variety of subjective experiences to external stimulation, Anadol created a series of five chapters from the primary work Sense of Healing: AI Data Painting A, with each chapter comprising an edition twenty. Twelve editions were made available for purchase at Evening of Discovery and sold for EUR 120K each, with proceeds going towards the support of mental health causes.

Each unique chapter visualises the complexity of a different neural landscape based on the data collected, presenting a diverse range of organic forms in motion. Brain Data Flow depicts mercurial and mirrored folds; Parametric Memories, smooth sculptural formations; Neural Clouds, granular compositions; Neural Landscapes, topographical mountains and plains; and Neural Fluid Dreams, overlapping, textured layers


Arthur Mamou-Mani AA dipl, ARB/RIBA FRSA is a French architect and director of the award-winning practice Mamou-Mani Architects, specialised in a new kind of digitally designed and fabricated architecture. He is a lecturer at the University of Westminster and UCL-Bartlett in London and owns a digital fabrication laboratory called the Fab.Pub which allows people to experiment with large 3D Printers and Laser Cutters. Since 2016, he is a fellow of the The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. He has won the Gold Prize at the American Architecture Prize for the Wooden Wave project installed at BuroHappold Engineering. Mamou-Mani’s clients include ARUP, Buro Happold Engineering, Karen Millen Fashion, The Burning Man Festival, FoodInk and Imagination ltd. Prior to founding Mamou-Mani in 2011, he worked with Atelier Jean Nouvel, Zaha Hadid Architects and Proctor and Matthews Architects.

Catharsis was realised in Black Rock City in 2022 as a fractal amphitheatre and public space dedicated to cultivating artistic expression, conversation and engagement. Co-designed by architect Arthur Mamou-Mani in collaboration with Therme Art and Ikona Collection, planning for Catharsis began in 2019 in preparation for 2020. Following the outbreak of COVID-19, the physical construction of Catharsis was postponed. Mamou-Mani took the opportunity to collaborate with gaming engineers and VR specialists to create a virtual rendering of Catharsis in the Metaverse, alongside a virtual edition of his 2018 temple, Galaxia, where the structure has resided until this year.  


The geometric structure of Catharsis, modelled after mathematician Henri Poincaré’s Hyperbolic Disk, unfolds with a large central space including seven gateways that extend out towards the sky. A dedicated team of volunteers came together to build the intricate physical structure of Catharsis for the very first time in the summer of 2022. The gallery amphitheatre was host to a diverse and exciting group show curated to offer the community a multi-sensorial and immersive experience in the heart of Nevada’s desert. The programme was designed to welcome a variety of different practices in the spirit of radical inclusion, self-expression and participation. 

Arthur Mamou Mani, Mikolaj Sekutowicz and new media artist Refik Anadol led a talk on the creative journey of bringing Catharsis to life; discussing the potential and limitations of new technologies, co-creation and problem-solving at the heart of creativity, and the transformative powers of art for our mental and physical wellbeing. Interactive works such as Paragraph Zero by artist Joulia Strauss were unveiled in Catharsis. The piece features an immersive shamanic school garden created through VR explorations. The virtual sculptural environment, along with a body of text painted directly onto the structure itself, acted as a draft for a universal law of environmental personhood for Mother Earth. 

Strauss gave an accompanying lecture on ancestral healing and performed on an ancient Greek lyre, drawing attention to the musical history of indigenous Europe and highlighting the Dorian Scale and its healing capacity in relationship with nature. The work asks us to consider structures of knowledge that might allow our civilisation to escape reductionist approaches to the Anthropocene. 

Refik Anadol presented an iteration of his innovative work Machine Hallucinations, which was projected onto the walls of Catharsis. Machine Hallucinations visualises data from cutting-edge neurotechnology to create an experiential, synaesthetic work responding to viewers’ neurological and emotional impulses, expanding the possibilities of mental healing through artistic production. The programme also included performances by Dr. Sian Proctor, the first black female civil astronaut, and acclaimed pianist Romain Collin, contributing to the diverse and enriching activations presented in Catharsis throughout the week. 

Catharsis was carefully disassembled piece by piece, to be resurrected in different locations around the world, hereby allowing audiences far and wide to experience, participate and play with the work and its cultural legacy, as both amphitheatre and museum. 

Catharsis in the Metaverse

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Sonia Dawn Boyce is a British Afro-Caribbean artist, living and working in London. She is a Professor of Black Art and Design at University of the Arts London. Boyce’s research interests explore art as a social practice and the critical and contextual debates that arise from this area of study. With an emphasis on collaborative work, Boyce has been working closely with other artists since 1990, often involving improvisation and spontaneous performative actions on the part of her collaborators. Boyce’s work involves a variety of media, such as drawing, print, photography, video, and sound. Her art explores the interstices between sound and memory, the dynamics of space, and incorporating the spectator. To date, Boyce has taught Fine Art studio practice for over thirty years in several art colleges across the UK.

Sonia Boyce, OBE RA was awarded the prestigious Golden Lion award for Best National Participation at La Biennale di Venezia 2022, representing the British Pavilion with her installation, Feeling Her Way. The Biennale, running from 23 April–27 November 2022, marked the fourth consecutive year of partnership between Therme Art and the British Council.


Sonia Boyce’s installation Feeling Her Way in the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale immerses visitors in the collaborative dynamism of five Black female musicians from Britain and Sweden, brought together by the artist to improvise, interact, and play with their voices. Colour-tinted video works take centre stage among Boyce’s signature tessellating wallpapers and golden 3-D geometric structures, which bring the audience into the work through their highly reflective surfaces. The rooms of the pavilion are filled with sounds — sometimes harmonious, sometimes clashing; embodying feelings of freedom, power and vulnerability.

Vocalists include award-winning, intergenerational singers Poppy Ajudha, Jacqui Dankworth MBE, Sofia Jernberg, Tanita Tikaram and composer Errollyn Wallen CBE — all linked by their impressive vocals and shared love and exploration of jazz and soul. The central video installation captures the singers as they meet for the first time, improvise, and perform together acapella, demonstrating the potential of collaborative play as a route to innovation, a central theme in Boyce’s practice. The videos were filmed at Abbey Road Studios in London and Atlantis Studios in Stockholm.

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Theaster Gates (b. 1973) creates works that engage with space theory, land development, sculpture and performance. Drawing on his interest and training in urban planning and preservation, the artist redeems spaces that have been left behind. His works contends with the notion of Black space as a formal exercise, one defined by collective desire, artistic agency and the tactics of a pragmatist. 

Marking the Fifth Consecutive Year of Therme’s Partnership with Serpentine, Therme Group supported the realisation of Theaster Gate’s 2022 Serpentine Pavilion, Black Chapel, designed in partnership with Adjaye Associates. The ongoing collaboration continues to explore innovative expressions in art and architecture as drivers of wellbeing, contemplation and healing. For Black Chapel, Gates brought to life a space for gathering, meditation and interaction, which facilitated a summer-long series of performances and activations, and in which he unveiled an exciting new series of tar paintings.

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. 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. — Theaster Gates

Black Chapel draws its inspiration from the historic great kilns of Stoke-on-Trent, paying homage to British craft and manufacturing traditions. Primarily crafted of wood, the Pavilion’s design alludes to the performative and meditative qualities of a small chapel. A bell from the demolished St. Laurence Church on Chicago’s South Side, placed next to the entrance of the Pavilion, is used to announce the summer’s performances and activations. Its symbolism is rooted in the erasure of environments for spiritual communion and gathering available to urban communities, and the possibility to reclaim these spaces. A single source of light from an oculus creates a sanctuary-like environment for reflection and communion. 


The interior of Black Chapel was partially inspired by the meditative environment of the Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas, in which fourteen paintings by Mark Rothko are housed. Gates has produced a new series of tar paintings for the Pavilion, titled, Seven Songs, which pay homage to his father’s craft as a roofer, incorporating roofing strategies and methods such as torch down, in which an open flame is used to heat materials and bind them to surfaces. Conceived as a platform for participation and performances, with an emphasis on music and public engagement, Black Chapel extends the Gates’ practice of space-making through vernacular urban and architectural interventions.

Black Chapel by Theaster Gates

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Jeppe Hein (born 1974 in Copenhagen, Denmark) is a Danish artist based in Berlin and Copenhagen. He studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Arts in Copenhagen and the Städel Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Frankfurt a. M. 

The artist is widely known for his production of experiential and interactive artworks that can be positioned at the junction where art, architecture, and technical inventions intersect. Unique in their formal simplicity and notable for their frequent use of humor, his works engage in a lively dialogue with the traditions of Minimalist sculpture and Conceptual art of the 1970s. Jeppe Hein’s works often feature surprising and captivating elements which place spectators at the centre of events and focus on their experience and perception of the surrounding space. 

In June 2021, Therme Art commissioned the artistic project Today I Feel Like… Manchester by Berlin-based Danish artist Jeppe Hein, as part of a collaboration with Manchester International Festival (MIF). This first partnership between Manchester International Festival and Therme Art highlighted a strong commitment to education and participation, using creativity as a tool to engage with local communities. By inviting school children to engage with and share their feelings, the project aimed to bring greater awareness to young people’s mental wellbeing, as well as to facilitate a collective healing process, encouraging communities in Manchester to come together.


Today I Feel Like… began as a question that artist Jeppe Hein asked himself daily, accompanied by a spontaneous self-portrait in his watercolour diary, as a way to engage more deeply with his own feelings and sense of self. Now, Hein has opened this question to the public, inviting participants of his workshops to reflect on how they feel and to paint a corresponding self-portrait. In doing so, participants are able to contemplate their emotional landscapes and are granted a space in which to express themselves. Concurrently, larger collections of self-portraits created in their way portray life in its complexity, reflecting the varying moods of the moment.

Together with Therme Art, Hein developed an artistic workshop held in local schools across Manchester, inviting children to take part in breathing exercises followed by painting faces that depicted their feelings in the present. The artworks were displayed on Festival Square during the 2021 edition of MIF, and intended to be installed as tiles on permanent display at the new Therme Manchester wellbeing resort. The participatory project was conceived to create a permanent connection between Therme Manchester and the young people in the community that it will serve. 

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Sumayya Vally is the founder and principal of Counterspace. Her design, research and pedagogical practice is committed to finding expression for hybrid identities and contested territories.

Her context serves as her place for finding speculative histories, futures, archaeologies, and design languages; with the intent to reveal the invisible. Her work is often forensic, and draws on performance, the supernatural, the wayward and the overlooked as generative places of history and work. 

She was named on the TIME100 Next list celebrating 100 emerging leaders shaping the future. She is presently based between Johannesburg and London as the lead designer for the Serpentine Pavilion 2020/20 Plus 1.

Therme Group’s acquisition of the 2021 Serpentine Pavilion, designed by Sumayya Vally and Counterspace Studio, marked its fourth consecutive year in partnership with the Serpentine in support of its annual architecture programme. Sumayya Vally is the youngest architect to have been commissioned for this internationally acclaimed programme. As a member of Therme Art’s advisory board, Vally has continually demonstrated the power of architecture as a facilitator of community and wellbeing, including in the realisation of the 2021 Serpentine Pavilion. Through ongoing collaborations with Therme Art, Vally’s architectural projects have expanded the possibilities in the creation of spaces which nurture cross-cultural dialogue, encourage participation and instill a sense of belonging.


The 2021 Serpentine Pavilion designed by Counterspace illustrates the power of architecture in inspiring a strong sense of community, identity, belonging and gathering. Conveyed through abstract and interlacing sculptural elements varying in scale, the Pavilion directly references the landscape of London’s restaurants, markets, bookshops, and cultural establishments. 

The structure of the Pavilion pays homage to institutions that have played a significant role in the vitalization of cross-cultural communities during their migration into neighbourhoods such as Brixton, Hoxton, Hackney, Peckham and Notting Hill. Reclaimed steel, cork and timber, which make up the Pavilion’s fabric, weave together a range of pink and brown hues that not only reflect the architectural diversity of London, but also the fluctuating light filtering through the city. 

During the summer of 2021, fragments of the Pavilion were installed in neighbourhoods across the city, to facilitate gatherings and impromptu interactions, honouring the history of erased and existing places which have embraced diverse communities over time. A special sound programme commissioned for the Pavilion, Listening to the City, featuring work by artists such as Ain Bailey and Jay Bernard, connected visitors to the stories and sounds of lost spaces across London.

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Sissel Tolaas (b. 1963, Norway) is an artist and researcher working actively on diverse aspects of the topic of scents. She has a background in chemistry, mathematics, linguistics, languages and art and is working on smell-molecule preservation and conservation archives.

She began to concentrate on scents in 1990, researching its importance in different sciences, fields of art/design and other disciplines. At that time, she developed a “smell archive” in over 7000 airtight jars. In January 2004, Tolaas established the Smell Research Lab Berlin, for smell and communication/language, supported by IFF International Flavours and Fragrances. Tolaas’s research has won recognition through numerous national and international scholarships, honours, and prizes including the 2014 CEW, New York Award for Chemistry & Innovation; 2009 Rouse Foundation Award from Harvard University GSD; an honorary mention at the 2010 ArsElectronica in Linz, Austria; and the 2010-2011-2012-2014 Synthetic Biology / Synthetic Aesthetics Award from Stanford and Edinburgh Universities including a residency at Harvard Medical School.

Highlighting its exploration of the sensorial qualities of art, Therme Art is integrating into its ambitious commissions programme the work Resurrecting the Sublime, an immersive installation merging art and biotechnology. Exhibited at the Central Pavilion of the Venice Architecture Biennale 2021, Resurrecting the Sublime is a collaborative artwork built on interdisciplinary research, originating in the Harvard University Herbaria, a library of extinct specimens. The installation illuminates the regenerative qualities and fluidity of molecular life, engaging with the micro-scale of biological ecosystems to parse out new futures. Instead of being preoccupied by a more common macro view of extinction, the artwork hints to the idea that perhaps the solution lies within the transformative potential existing at the molecular level.


Posing questions on the Anthropocene and extinction, the centre point of the installation is a vitrine that revives a lost flower smell — which, through participation and sensorial experience, allows audiences to glimpse, and in turn, speculate on the re-existence of extinct flowers.

It is an ongoing collaboration between artist Dr Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, smell researcher and artist Sissel Tolaas, and an interdisciplinary team of researchers and engineers from the biotechnology company Ginkgo Bioworks, led by Creative Director Dr Christina Agapakis, with the support of flavour and fragrance molecule company IFF Inc. In a series of immersive installations in exhibitions including La Fabrique du Vivant at Centre Pompidou, Paris, and Nature, the Cooper Hewitt Triennial, the project allows us to smell extinct flowers, lost due to colonial activity.

Using tiny amounts of DNA extracted from specimens of three flowers stored at Harvard University’s Herbaria, the Ginkgo team used synthetic biology to predict and resynthesize gene sequences that might encode for smell-producing enzymes. With Ginkgo’s findings and data, Sissel Tolaas used her chemistry expertise to reconstruct the flowers’ smells in her lab, using identical or comparative smell molecules.

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Stefano Mancuso (b. 1965, Italy) is the Director of the International Laboratory of Plant Neurobiology (LINV) in Florence, Italy; a founder of the International Society for Plant Signalling and Behaviour, and a professor at the University of Florence.

Pnat is a spin-off company of University of Florence and can rely on unmatched experimentations realised in one of the world’s most important research centre on plants, the International Laboratory for Plant Neurobiology (LINV) directed by the preeminent scientist Stefano Mancuso. He is one of the co-founders of Pnat, together with botanists, agronomists and the architects Antonio Girardi and Cristiana Favretto.

Mancuso is a founder of the study of plant neurobiology, which explores signalling and communication at all levels of biological organisation, from genetics to molecules, cells and ecological communities. His recent books include The Revolutionary Genius of Plants: A New Understanding of Plant Intelligence and Behaviour, Brilliant Green: The Surprising History and Science of Plant Intelligence, and Measuring Roots: An Updated Approach.

As a co-designer of Therme Art’s vision and part of a broader collaboration, we are honoured to expand our partnership with Stefano Mancuso and Pnat by supporting Mutual Aid. At the heart of what defines sustainable design today, the installation aims to establish synergic relationships and provoke mutual exchanges between natural and artificial environments. As we begin to build anew in the midst of the pandemic, we hope that our collaborations with Pnat can articulate how we can learn from plant and fungi systems to grow a more just, balanced world.


Presented in the Italian Pavilion at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition at La Biennale di Venezia (2021), the installation Mutual Aid proposes an inventive integration of nature within a more sustainable view of urban life. The hypothesis of the installation is that a strategy of mutual aid and sharing of key resources such as water, energy and food, as well as pure air, can be widely applicable to the urban scale, and that this theme should be included among the challenges of the urban resilience agenda.

The visitor enters the installation through a path in the midst of a landscape composed of long grass leaves, from which some glass volumes of different size emerge. The biggest glass cases host tall plants lighted from above. These elements are botanical filters, which purify the air of the room. The idea is to suggest an urban landscape where plants and the built environment are indistinguishable and where buildings (metaphorically: the display cases) not only do not create environmental impacts, but rather generate benefits (pure air) at a large landscape scale.

The installation is managed by a system of sensors and computers that take care of the logistics through which pure air is equally distributed throughout the system. The transfer of resources is made visible through lights that follow the flows in the pipes. A monitor displays the data related to air depuration and a short video explaining the strategy of sharing resources in ecological systems, and how it is imagined in urban systems.


The 17th International Architecture Exhibition—La Biennale di Venezia 2021, marked the third year of partnership between Therme Art and the British Council. The British Council unveiled its commission for the British Pavilion, titled The Garden of Privatised Delights, running from 22 May to 21 November 2021. 

Manijeh Verghese is Head of Public Programmes at the Architectural Association (AA), where she is also a Unit Master of Diploma 12 and a seminar leader for the AA Professional Practice for Fifth Year course. She is a founding Director at Unscene Architecture and co-curator of the British Pavilion at the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale. Over the past eight years, she has led postgraduate and undergraduate design studios at both the AA and Oxford Brookes University and has taught workshops and courses across universities in the UK and abroad. Previously, she has worked for architecture practices including John Pawson and Foster + Partners and has contributed to design publications such as Disegno and Icon, as well as think-tanks, books and peer reviewed journals.

​​Madeleine Kessel is an architect and urbanist dedicated to designing joyful people-centred places that contribute positively to our planet. She is co-curator of the British Pavilion at the 17th International Venice Architecture Biennale, with the exhibition The Garden of Privatised Delights. Madeleine brings over a decade of practice experience, having previously worked on cultural, civic and master planning projects at Haworth Tompkins, Studio Weave, and HHF Architekten, and as an Associate at Haptic Architects, on projects including Battersea Arts Centre, Kings Cross W3, St James’s Market Pavilion, and Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Madeleine has won a number of awards, including the Architects’ Journal’s 40 under 40 and the RIBA Rising Star Award.


Drawing inspiration from Netherlandish artist Hieronymus Bosch’s triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights, the exhibition, curated by Manijeh Verghese and Madeleine Kessler, calls for new perspectives on privately-owned public space in cities across the UK. It challenges the separation between private and public organisations, while posing solutions on how they might work together to improve the use of, access to and ownership of public spaces. In the spirit of  Bosch’s triptych, the exhibition explores the UK’s privatised public space as a non-binary issue. As Bosch explored Earth as the middle ground between the extremes of Heaven and Hell, the curators similarly suggest that privatised public space sits between two extremes: the utopia of common land before the Enclosures Act of the 18th century and the subsequent dystopia of privatisation.

The rooms of the British Pavilion are transformed into seven privatised public spaces reimagined as inclusive, immersive experiences. Familiar public spaces in the UK, such as the youth centre, the high street and the local pub, sit alongside the traditionally inaccessible private garden square. All spaces are overlaid with proposals for how they can be reprogrammed and revitalised. The proposal of two new ministries invite a bottom-up approach to conversations around ownership of land and facial recognition data, while a private toilet in the pavilion’s basement highlights issues surrounding access to the most basic of public services.

Within The Garden of Privatised Delights, Verghese and Kessler seek to ensure a range of voices, from young people to politicians, are heard. At once playful and provocative, familiar yet strange, each experience suggests new models for privatised public spaces, prompting visitors to question, debate, and proactively engage with each. Unlike traditional exhibitions, with architecture represented by models and drawings, the installations within the British Pavilion are designed as simulated spaces. This aims to actively encourage everyone, architects and non-architects alike, to engage with and consider how public space design can be improved to benefit the wider community.

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Egill Sæbjörnsson (b. Iceland, 1973) is a renowned Icelandic visual artist living in Berlin since 1999. His video installations consist of real objects with projected images, often self-generative and combined with technology and sound.

Sæbjörnsson approaches his work with a sense of magic and curiosity, mediated through other elements such as music, video, and installation. His language spans a wide array of styles, from childish and comical, to minimalistic and simple, but what unites the works is his use of humour and philosophical approach to the subjects. Steinkugel, his public art piece for the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, and the first permanent, self-generative video installation in an outdoor space in Germany, opened in 2014.

In 2017 Egill Sæbjörnsson represented Iceland at the Biennale d’Arte in Venice. His works have been shown in The Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, Frankfurter Kunstverein, National Gallery of Prague, The Amos Rex Museum Finland, Künstlerhaus Bremen, Frankfurter Kunstverein, The Watermill Centre New York, HOPSTREET Gallery in Brussels, i8 Gallery Reykjavik; Johann König, Berlin and Reykjavik Art Museum.

As a member of Therme Art’s Advisory Board, Egill Sæbjörnsson regularly collaborates with Therme Art’s curatorial team on programming and events, including the Wellbeing Culture Forum. Having practiced in Berlin for over 20 years, Sæbjörnsson brings a wealth of knowledge and insight into Berlin’s cultural scene and institutions, which Therme Art has an ongoing commitment to support.


Flying Waters was conceived by Egill Sæbjörnsson on occasion of the event Therme Art x Messe in St Agnes, organised in partnership with König Galerie. The work involved a set of evocative and free-flowing water jets being projected onto the façade of the iconic Brutalist St Agnes church for the duration of Gallery Weekend Berlin and Berlin Art Week celebrations from 8-20 September 2020.

Flying Waters used the building as an all-encompassing blanket, with the “flying water” creating shapes and forms that interacted with the built environment. As with other elements of the Therme Art x Messe in St Agnes programme, the artwork played with the viewers’ senses and perceptions, asking us to reimagine and reconsider our everyday surroundings. The line between real and illusory is often blurred in Sæbjörnsson’s work, highlighting how subjective preconceptions and responses mould the material world.


In 2017, Therme Art commissioned The Mother by visual artist Egill Sæbjörnsson. The work is a self-generative video installation and is estimated to be completed by 2023. The first version of The Mother was made for Therme Art and presented at the Courtauld Gallery in London in 2017. The initial prototype consisted of a 3D printed model and a video animation of flying water projected onto it, with the idea of creating a fountain where real and animated water could be combined.

The Mother is a self-generative video installation. The work encompasses a fountain of water held within a larger dome, measuring 4,5 m x 2,5 m x 1,2 m. The fountain features a pool at the fore which is connected to another pool, adjacent to the dome, by a water entrance. 

The fountain is animated by a computer-run application, which creates kinetic visuals of flying water and transformational rock surfaces that never repeat themselves; mapped onto the fountain using video projectors. The soundscape combines digital sounds with that of real running water. While the fountain is the central focus of The Mother, it is complemented by additional features which play an important role, including the water entrance and the hollow walls that visitors can explore. Outside of the dome, a smaller, organically-shaped object is placed in juxtaposition with the fountain, intended to transform the structure into a hybrid between building and living being.

The conceptual foundations for The Mother are rooted in Sæbjörnsson’s extensive research on the architecture of fountains, dating back to 2010, as well as a 20-year artistic trajectory of projecting videos onto objects and places. A fountain, derived from the Latin “fons” (genitive “fontis”), is a source or spring; a structure which projects water into a basin for consumption as well as entertainment. Fountains have long served as a meeting point for humans and animals, whose gatherings foster community and liveliness in situ. In parallel, the sounds generated by fountains and running water are universally considered to be calming to the nervous system. Through The Mother, Sæbjörnsson’s explores the creation of a convivial, calming and healthy environment.

Flying Waters

WBCF | St. Agnes Messe

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Junya Ishigami (b. 1974, Japan) is one of the most innovative voices in architecture and contemporary design. Formerly of the architecture firm SANAA, Ishigami established his own firm, junya.ishigami + associates, in 2004.

Ishigami believes there are many differences between conventional architecture, as an artificial environment, and the natural environment, including various forms, systems, degrees of diversity, and times. Yet the most fundamental difference of them all is scale, from subatomic particles, insects and animals, to the human world, to the global scale and even to the incomprehensible vastness beyond our planet. Thus, Ishigami’s architectural approach seeks to integrate all of the various elements of a building, including natural and man-made elements and the environment.

The artist showed in the Japanese Pavilion at the 11th Venice Architecture Biennale (2008), and was the youngest ever recipient of the Architectural Institute of Japan Prize for the Kanagawa Institute of Technology KAIT Workshop (2009). In 2010, he won the Golden Lion for Best Project at the 12th Venice Architecture Biennale, and became an Associate Professor at Tohoku University in Japan. In 2014 he was made the Kenzo Tange Design Critic at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in the US.

In 2019, Therme Art acquired the second consecutive annual Serpentine Pavilion. On this occasion, Therme Art CEO and Head Curator Mikolaj Sekutowicz remarked that, “It has become incredibly important to merge nature and human architecture to overcome the environmental challenges our civilisation is currently facing. As a company, we are actively searching for solutions to challenges in architectural design and city planning through art. Ishigami’s design for this year’s Pavilion responds to these challenges, approaching solutions through the artistic and conceptual freedom provided by Serpentine Galleries.”


Consisting a complex arrangement of slates, the Pavilion forms a single canopy that appears to emerge straight from the earth on which it stands, functioning as a direct extension of nature and the earth itself. Created according to his ‘free space’ philosophy, the renowned Japanese architect’s Pavilion represents the seamless union of man-made and natural worlds, embodying a quiet but insistent call to rethink how we design and conceive of architecture’s role in contemporary urban life.

What I wanted to do was create this building to be a part of the natural landscape… Just as if there were a small new garden added to the Serpentine Gallery, I hope people can use it in many different ways. — Junya Ishigami


Francis Kéré is an award-winning architect based in Berlin, Germany, at Kéré Architecture. Born in the village of Gando in Burkina Faso, he was the first child in the village to be sent to school. Since qualifying as an architect at the Technical University of Berlin he has designed award-winning projects in Burkina Faso, Mali, Yemen and China, including the construction of a number of school buildings in the village of his birth. He is a tenured professor at Harvard University and founder of the Kéré Foundation e.V.

The collaboration between Therme Art and Francis Kéré’s studio, along with the theatre’s relocation to the Miami Design District, represents the latest in a series of architectural projects at the core of Therme Group’s mission—to work with artists and architects in developing large-scale projects that challenge the limitations of conventional exhibition spaces to reach wide and diverse audiences. As both a symbolic and functional space for public gathering, Tugunora underscores Therme Art’s continued support of communal environments and will continue to be a part of its programming after its display at 4141 Design.


Tugunora is a hybrid word formed from the ancient Greek term agora, a public space for assembly and discussion and the Burkinabè word tuguna, a traditional gathering space in Western African villages, where elders come together to confer regarding important matters of the community. While the agora is an open space, the tuguna is often built from a round log structure, which supports a roof of woven leaves.

“The design we did here was intended to get all of you to be part of the debate,” stated Kéré as his opening remark during Therme Forum at Design Miami/ in regards to the Talks Theatre.

Kéré integrated these two concepts into the design of the Talks Theatre through a range of modular and wooden seating elements, varying in height and surrounding the speaker’s podium. Translucent, structural lamps were suspended above the theatre space. Combining the elders’ practice with the agora’s intention of public assembly, the Talks Theatre is an inviting place of exchange and dialogue—a place that generates knowledge and fosters discourses on contemporary art, architecture, design and city planning.


Dutch artists Lonneke Gordijn (b. 1980, Netherlands) and Ralph Nauta (b. 1978, Netherlands) founded studio DRIFT in 2007. With a multidisciplinary team of 64, they work on experiential sculptures, installations, and performances.

DRIFT manifests the phenomena and hidden properties of nature with the use of technology in order to learn from the earth’s underlying mechanisms and to re-establish our connection to it. With both depth and simplicity, DRIFT’s works of art illuminate parallels between man-made and natural structures through deconstructive, interactive, and innovative processes. The artists raise fundamental questions about what life is and explore a positive scenario for the future. All individual artworks have the ability to transform spaces.

DRIFT has realised numerous exhibitions and projects around the world. Their work has been exhibited at Victoria & Albert Museum; Met Museum; Stedelijk Museum; UTA Artist Space; Garage Museum; Mint Museum; Biennale di Venezia; Pace Gallery amongst others. Their work is held in the permanent collections of the LACMA; Rijksmuseum; SFMOMA; Stedelijk Museum; and Victoria & Albert Museum. In 2014, DRIFT was awarded the Arte Laguna Prize, Venice.

DRIFT have recognised an essential piece of our curatorial philosophy: the ‘white cube’ provided in museums and galleries does not do art the justice it deserves and requires to fully unfold it’s potential. Their work thrives in the public space, interwoven into architecture, living alongside people, inviting them to reconnect with the underlying mechanisms of the Earth; re-connect, re-establish, illuminate through interaction and innovation. DRIFT’s ability to transform space with depth and simplicity creates work that everyone connects towards in an innate and primal way.


Franchise Freedom is a performative artwork at the interface between technology, science, and art. Mimicking the natural movement and flight patterns of starlings in massive flocks, an autonomous, luminous swarm of drones flies through the sky in patterns generated by an algorithm that reacts in ways similar to starling murmuration. Each drone also has a light source, and the distance between the drones influences the lights’ intensities and colours. Franchise Freedom is the first ever imitation of a natural phenomenon by machines working with decentralised algorithms at this scale.

Franchise Freedom LTD is a joint venture between Therme Group, Pace and artist duo DRIFT. It establishes the shared ownership and commitment over Franchise Freedom, a flying sculpture of drones created by Studio Drift. Through the newly founded company, the three entities plan to support the development, operation, and exhibition of the work long-term and present it in locations around the world.


Frida Escobedo born in 1979, Mexico City, is principal and founder of an architecture and design studio based in Mexico City. The projects produced at the studio operate within a theoretical framework that addresses time, not as a historical calibration, but rather as a social operation. This approach is inspired by Henri Bergson’s notion of ‘social time,’ which proposes that understanding of ourselves and our environments depends first and foremost on duration. Escobedo’s conceptual works, such as the El Eco Pavilion (2010), Split Subject (2013) and Civic Stage (2013), have articulated these ideas by creating social spaces that can be inhabited and experienced in multiple ways, by individuals and groups, encouraging social time to unfold at different speeds.

The work developed at Frida Escobedo’s studio ranges from art installation and furniture design to residential and public buildings. The firm’s projects include: ‘You know you cannot see so well as by reflection,’ a summer Pavilion designed for the central courtyard of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (2015); the exhibition design for ‘Under the Same Sun: Art from Latin America Today,’ curated by Pablo Le6n de la Barra and organised by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York in collaboration with the FundaciOn Jumex Arte Contemporaneo (2015-2016); and ‘A very short space of time through very short times of space’, an art installation commissioned by Stanford University (2016).

In 2018 Therme Art acquired the Serpentine Pavilion designed by Frida Escobedo. The significance of this work for Therme Art lies in the crossing of boundaries between culture, urban planning and socio-environmental impact that defines Therme Art’s very mission.

The purchase of this iteration of the Serpentine Pavilion marked one of the first stepping stones in Therme Art and Therme Group’s mission to support the art community and enabling the creation of significant and long-lasting cultural heritage. The acquisition of the work will give the otherwise temporary pavilion a second life in the public realm, through its installation in Therme Group’s esteemed facilities.

One of the first things that came to my mind when we were speaking with Therme Group is that the pavilion is going to remain in constant interaction with people and that was one very important thing to me. — Frida Escobedo


Escobedo’s atmospheric courtyard-based structure draws inspiration from Mexican domestic architecture, while its pivoted axis refers to the Prime Meridian, which was established in 1851 at Greenwich and became the global standard marker of time and geographical distance. The Pavilion’s innovative and contemplative use of public space, along with the social inclusion it promotes, fully reflects the values of Therme Group.