Alchemy: The Material World of David AdjayeSpencer Bailey, with a preface by David Adjaye and a foreword by Teresita Fernández

Price AUD$120.00 | Phaidon 100 Price CAD$100.00 | Phaidon 100 Price €69.95 | Phaidon 100 Price £59.95 | Phaidon 100 Price T79.95 | Phaidon 100 Price USD$79.95 | Phaidon 100

A fascinating new take on the architecture of Sir David Adjaye OM OBE, exploring how he chooses, uses, and combines materials, and the extraordinary buildings and structures that result

David Adjaye is one of the most in-demand architects today, known for his thoughtful interpretation of public spaces. In order to understand him as an architect, you must look at his projects through the lens of material – a crucial consideration in his practice. Organized into five sections – Stone/Concrete, Wood, Metal, Glass, and Rammed Earth – Alchemy reimagines the traditional architect monograph by examining the importance of material in architecture, a study vital to Adjaye and his design process.

In 2021, David Adjaye was awarded the RIBA Gold Medal, and he was among seven global leaders to receive a TIME100 Impact Award in 2022. The book features over 30 public, commercial, and residential projects around the world, from his 2001 Concrete Garden in London to the Amoako Boafo Gallery in Accra, Ghana, built with rammed earth and completed in 2022.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Size: 290 × 214 mm (11 3/8 × 8 3/8 in)
  • Pages: 292 pp
  • Illustrations: 212 illustrations
  • ISBN: 9781838663919

Spencer Bailey is the co-founder of The Slowdown, co-host of the Time Sensitive podcast, and author of In Memory Of: Designing Cultural Memorials (Phaidon). He has written for publications such as The New York Times MagazineFortuneNewsweek, and Town & Country. From 2013 to 2018, Bailey was the editor-in-chief of Surface magazine. He lives in New York City.

'For me, David Adjaye’s practice is at once sensitivity and strength, light and weight, science and sci-fi, and art, installation, and architecture all in one. There is a kinship for me in his multi-hyphenate and myriad-material way of working. Alchemy captures this all in a way that is as beautiful as being an expected guest in his buildings. Spencer Bailey’s understanding of David and his work is clearly the result of real time spent—together and apart, inside and outside the work.' – Nick Cave, artist

‘A profound survey that is a gift to society.’ – Dr. Samuel Ross, artist and designer

Alchemy focuses on the Ghanaian-British architect’s thoughtful use of essential building materials, from the metal of the openwork facade of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture to the rammed earth of a new gallery in Accra, Ghana.’ – WSJ. Magazine