Chicago Architecture Biennial: The Definitive Visitor’s Guide
As a crucible for contemporary architectural practice and thinking, there is nothing quite like a biennial, which is why it’s so extraordinary that Chicago is currently hosting North America’s inaugural Architecture Biennial event. Practices from all over the world come together to showcase their responses to specific themes. It’s a time for fast and intense idea proliferation, and the pavilions are mined and examined for useful ideas by architects for years afterwards.
Rather than national pavilions, as with the Venice Biennale, Chicago has invited individual firms to participate. Some were invited to respond in particular ways, from building a full-scale home to documenting speculations about Chicago; the rest were encouraged to share how and what they are working on right now. In this way, the organizers of the Biennal hopes the exhibit will serve as an accurate and comprehensive survey of what is happening globally at the bleeding edge of architecture.
The Chicago Architecture Biennal is comprised of over a hundred installations in multiple areas throughout the city and is being accompanied by dozens of events, either specially planned for the Biennial, or already as part of Chicago’s naturally vibrant architectural scene. While the Biennal website does a thorough job at outlining everything that’s available, it can be daunting to know where to begin. Architectstasy is here to help: here is a snapshot guide for how to approach the exhibit and avoiding Biennial fatigue.
The first thing to understand is that there are installations on the South Side of Chicago, at the Graham Foundation, and along the lakefront; but the vast majority of the focus is in the Chicago Cultural Center. Entrance to this late-19th Century gem is free and open to the public; already home to organizations like Story Corps and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, it’s this special building that is the site of the center of the Chicago Architecture Biennal. Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin sums it up nicely: “The Biennal is a three-ring circus, and the Cultural Center is the main tent.”
Once inside, there are three floors and dozens and dozens and dozens (and dozens) of exhibits to view. For those of you who have gone through (or are currently going through) architecture school, think of it this way: it’s like an enormous end-of-semester installation, except most of the 100+ installations were developed over years and with teams of two or five or 20. The exhibits are dense, and they are everywhere in this building that occupies a full city block. Rather than try to consume everything at once, I recommend going in with a strategy. Here are a few proposed tracks to get you started; share what others you come up with in the comments!
CONSTRUCTION/ACT OF BUILDING
If you are interested in get-real architecture and understanding how architectural design meets actual building, check out these exhibits.
Besler & Sons + ATLV, The Entire Situation
Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zürich + Self-Assembly Lab, MIT: Rock Print
BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group), Steam Ring Generator
Andreas Angelidakis, Fantasy Ruins: Bags, Body Parts, and Bibelot
SelgasCano/HelloEverything, Casa A
If you appreciate seeing how different practices approach and rethink an established typology, check out these exhibits.
Studio Gang: the police station
Tomas Saraceno: spider architecture
SO-IL: the ramp
Studio D[TALE]: urban transportation
MAIO: the column
If you are interested in thinking about architecture in the context and at the scale of the city,
Take your time going through the most concentrated installation, “Bold: Alternative Scenarios For Chicago”. 18 architects present projects and ideas specifically for Chicago, but the ideas (watersheds, housing, skyscrapers, vacancy) are applicable to cities around the world. This collection offers alternative strategies to key issues at stake in Chicago, at multiple scales; you will see models, photographs, and diagrams at the scale of the building, the neighborhood, the region, and even the atmosphere. These projects are an opportunity to debate the issues cities are facing, the possibilities they present, and the challenges to be overcome. (For the rest of this article, this collection will be referred to as “Bold”.)
For an understanding of how practicing architects are approaching traditional (and some slightly less traditional) model building, check out these exhibits. (Students: get ready for accelerated learning of conventions, connections, materials, and possibilities!)
Bold: UrbanLab, Filter Island; Design With Company, Late Entry to Chicago Public Library Competition; Port Urbanism, The Big Shift; Weathers with AECOM, Second Sun
Noero, 180 Square Meters
Pezo von Ellrichshausen, Cent Pavilion
Bureau Spectacular, Furniture Urbanism
OtherOthers, Offset House
MOS Architects, House No. 11
junya.ishigami+associates, Kanagawa Institute of Technology
If you are interested in how photography can document architecture, illuminate issues, and highlight opportunities, check out these exhibits.
Iwan Baan, Chicago Documentation
Bold: David Schalliol, Reckoning With Vacancy
Johnston Marklee, House is a House is a House is a House
Baukuh + YellowOffice + Stefano Graziani, L’année dernière
Ramek Fazel, Sectional City
Kuehn Malvezzi + Armin Linke + Marko Lulić, Models of the House of One
Amanda Williams, Color(ed) Theory
If you enjoy the ways film plays with and displays architectural ideas, projects, and provocations, check out these exhibits.
MASS Studies, Zoom Out / Zone Out
Pedro Reyes, People’s United Nations
Stefano Boeri Architetti, Flying Gardeners
Makeka Design Lab, Transcape: New Horizons
Anne Lacaton & Jean-Phillippe Vassel + Frédéric Druot, Imaginaries of Transformation
If you like getting in, under, on, around, crawling through your architecture, check out these exhibits. They encourage and are best activated by full-body engagement.
Kéré, Place for Gathering
RAAAF, The End of Sitting-Cutout
Tomas Saraceno, Spider architectures
Onimashi Hyakudayuki, Children’s Town
SelgasCano/HelloEverything, Casa A
Didier Faustino, BUILTHEFIGHT
Tatiana Bilbao, Sustainable Housing
VTN, S House
Studio Albiori, Makeshift
If you’d like to see architects experimenting with different media, or familiar media in unfamiliar ways, or new methods of staging visually, semantically, spatially dense information, check out these exhibits.
GSAPP, Environmental Communications: Contact High
WAI Architecture Think Tank, Narrative Architecture: A Manifesto
Wolff Architects, Halo
LCLA Office, Islands, Atolls, and Other Derivative Territories
Smout Allen + Geoff Manaugh, LA Recalculated
Point Supreme, The Playfulness of the Real
Moon Hoon, Doodle Constructivism
Fake Industries, Indo-Pacific Atlas
Al Borde, House Under Construction
WORKac + Ant Farm, 3-C.CITY: Climate, Convention, and Cruise
House Under Construction
House Under Construction showcases the rehabilitation of an abandoned house in the historic center of Quito, Ecuador. The project aims to become a built manifesto, questioning our assumptions about architecture and the way we live, from economy and heritage to culture and society.
The Color(ed) Theory painted house series explores how academic and theoretical definitions of color map across the veiled language used in American media and popular culture to describe racially charged city spaces. What color is urban? What color is gentrification? What color is privilege? What color is poverty? This project aims to become a system that imagines artful ways of constructing new narratives about zero-dollar-value landscapes, allowing such places to shed their identity of victimhood and instead embrace the role of protagonists.
Fantasy Ruins: Bags, Body Parts, and Bibelot
These 3D printed buildings made of found objects, 3D scanned, collaged with images downloaded from 3D libraries, play with the idea of “bibelot”, a French term invented for objects that have no clear use besides the viewer’s emotional involvement with them. These fantasy ruins become vehicles of escape, scaled according to their users.
Anne Lacaton & Jean-Phillippe Vassel + Frédéric Druot
Imaginaries of Transformation
In 2004, Lacaton & Vassal + Frédéric Druot published PLUS, a manifesto on the preservation of Modernist public housing in response to the French government’s policy of aggressive demolition and reconstruction. Proposing a variety of incremental improvements both internal and external and through using one building in Bordeaux as a living laboratory, they demonstrated that it was possible to substantially improve the quality of life of occupants and increase housing stock inventory at a fraction of the price of demolition and replacement. The film Imaginaries of Tranformation shows the key phases of the construction process and reveals changes in the inhabitants’ lifestyles after the change, both anticipated and unpredicted.
Baukuh + YellowOffice + Stefano Graziani
Berlin is currently building a new forum of non-European cultures. The Humboldt Forum will be hosted inside a full-scale reproduction of the old Berliner Stadtschloss (City Palace), which, as a result, will become a singular hybrid of progressivism (the program) and conservativism (the envelope). In this entry into that competition, Baukuh + YellowOffice chose to make visible the multitude of contradictory desires incorporated into the Forum via the landscape.
Besler & Sons + ATLV
The Entire Situation
Few lines have been drawn more clearly than the one dividing the discipline of architecture from the practice of building. While this has afforded architecture some critical distance from construction, it has also established a gap that divides intellectual work from manual work. The Entire Situation is firmly positioned in this gap between disciplinary and practical problems; it repositions everyday aspects of construction, like the 1:1 architectural mock-up and Building Information Modeling (BIM), into a conceptual framework.
BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group)
Steam Ring Generator
Based on an original art proposal solicited by the Copenhagen power plant, BIG is designing a chimney that will make use of the plant’s excess steam to generate steam rings. The art piece is designed to raise awareness of carbon emissions by producing a puff of steam in the shape of a circle for every ton of carbon dioxide produced by burning the city’s garbage. By openly projecting Copenhagen’s carbon footprint onto the city sky, BIG aims to help residents make informed decisions for their lives and encourages their participation in shaping the well-being of their city.
In a domestic environment, the scattering of objects imposes order within a house. This type of urbanism creates micro-zones that we understand as programs – the kitchen, the bedroom, the living room, and so forth. Furniture Urbanism explores a lack of flexibility in an overcrowded environment.
Bold: David Schalliol
Reckoning With Vacancy
In Chicago, the place where one lives affects how one understands vacancy. On the North Side and Near North Side, vacacy often heralds the construction of larger, ever more expensive buildings; while in many South and West Side neighborhoods, it is the grim harbinger of yet another derelict lot. While some vacant properties are targeted for long-term development or absorbed into the city’s vacant property ownership programs, the majority of these parcels are in an ambiguous position: either informally maintained by community members or derelict and seemingly up for grabs. Reckoning With Vacancy grapples with these divergent conditions.
Bold: Design With Company
Late Entry to the Chicago Public Library Competition
This project uses the parameters of the 1987 architectural competition as a framework to reexamine the issues at stake, not only in the original design brief but also in the choice of the winning scheme, the use of history in thee design of architecture, and contemporary ideas surrounding libraries and the city. It contends explicitly with Stanley Tigerman’s misgivings about the use of history in architectural design, not necessarily to correct or solve the problem, but to revisit the polemic in a revealing and contemporary way.
In the wake of Occupy Wall Street and other protest movements all over the world, Didier Faustino proposes a modular architecture designed to structure protest sit-ins. The aesthetic of the project also refers, paradoxically, to the design of anti-riot police equipment and chain-link fences. This duality places the demonstrator in a double condition: offensive and defensive. The prototype proposes a political “architecture-event,” designed to enable defensive formations.
The Indo-Pacific region, extending from the east coast of Africa to the west coast of South America, is an obfvious attempt to displace an Atlantic vision of the globe. In 2013, the Australian Defence White Paper “Indo-Pacific Strategic Arc” officially allocated Australia as its center (previously, the country had belonged to the Pacific region); the government’s claim, however, remains controversial in diplomatic circles, and Australia’s aspiration to leadership has sparked clashes with China as the region’s center of gravity. The Indo-Pacific Atlas traces intersections of media, capital flows, gentrification, and post-traumatic conditions, and discontinuities that characterize Cape Town, Qatar, Valparaiso, and Medellín in a 10m (33’) long collage panorama.
Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zürich + Self-Assembly Lab, MIT
The first architectural construction built by robotic machines using only rocks and thread, without any adhesive or mortar, Rock Print is a collaborative installation by Gramazio Kohler Research and MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab. This load-bearing column (tested up to three tons) goes far beyond manual-assembly techniques of drystone walls, presenting a unique combination of state-of-the-art knowledge from architecture, digital fabrication, and material science.
Environmental Communications: Contact High
In the late 1960s, the collective Environmental Communications was formed by a group of young architects, photographers, and psychologists. They argued that in an era of accelerating image proliferation, university slide libraries were the emerging centers of institutional and pedagogical power, and speculated that by infiltrating those slide libraries with their “environmental photography,” they could alter the visual cortex of architecture schools, subvert conventional pedagogy, and spark a revolution in student consciousness. Contact High is the first major public display of their work.
Noted architectural photographer Iwan Baan has produced two new series especially for the Chicago Architecture Biennial. The first is a new selection of aerial images of Chicago showing the city’s key architectural landmarks set within the wider cityscape. It emphasizes Chicago’s industrial landscape, reinforcing it as an ongoing center of production. The second expands on the themes of industry and infrastructure, drawing on architect Alvin Boyarsky’s research on Chicago as an “energy system,” shifting his perspective to (and below) street level.
House Is a House Is a House Is a House Is a House
Outsiders’ points of view on architecture often reveal latent elements so powerful that they shift the architects’ own understanding of the work. In Johnston Marklee’s projects of artist spaces, this process of feedback between artist and architect often interrogates the architectural form beyond its original dimension. This spirit of collaboration has yielded a series of images produced by artists, inspired by or depicting the firm’s built projects.
Kanagawa Institute of Technology
The Kanagawa Institute of Technology is planning two projects, a workshop and an adjacent plaza. Each is designed with a spare hand towards material and structural support; both are intended to suggest spatial differentiation with incremental differences in order and material. Both are open to the elements; the workshop is populated with columns, the plaza is devoid of them, and both are covered by long, thin roofs intended to both announce its materiality and obscure its purpose.
Place for Gathering
A native of Burkina Faso, Francis Kéré grew up at the edge of the Sahel, a place with challenging climatic conditions and limited resources. Many villages in the region are remote, and community members depend on one another for the survival and prosperity of the group as a whole. From an architectural standpoint, it is essential to designate spaces where people can come together. Whether for celebrating special events, discussing important decisions, or simply coming together to gossip and share stories, these common spaces are vital for the everyday functioning of the village. In the Chicago Cultural Center, Kéré has designed and built a similar common space where Biennial visitors can sit, gather, and share.
Kuehn Malvezzi + Armin Linke + Marko Lulić
Models of the House of One
Designed as a house of prayer and learning for Jews, Christians, Muslims, and the larger secular urban community, the House of One is a synagogue, church, and mosque. Its design was produced by the simultaneity of intimacy and foreignness, similarities and differences between the three Abrahamic religions. Models and photographs are available for viewing.
LCLA Office (Luis Callejas & Charlotte Hansson)
Islands, Atolls, and Other Derivative Territories
This exhibit is a textile illustration explicating the tension between two-dimensional architectural methods of representation and the depiction of fluid landscapes. The 7m x 5m (23’ x 16’) silk fabric was developed by LCLA’s Luis Callejas in collaboration with architect and fashion designer Charlotte Hanson.
Floating: The Presence of the Present
Space has lost unidirectional definition, and it has thus become a field of possibilities, where anything can happen at the same time and architectural outlines dim. Floating takes the commons as its starting point, amplifying other architectures, provoking actions, and allowing critical dialogues about the current state of the field to open up. It’s a ready-made architecture that can be continuously reconfigured; each unit is inflatable, a component of a wider system that shapes the spaces it inhabits.
Makeka Design Lab
Transcape: New Horizons
In South Africa the legacy of apartheid, where urban planning strategies distorted infrastructure into a social engineering device, continues to affect architectural production. In a milieu of increasing urban disharmony, rapid demographic change, nascent democracies, and diminishing agency of the architect, public infrastructures are detached from public interest. In this context, architecture has yet to produce an aesthetic regime detached from the past. Through the lens of Cape Town and its visceral contradiction, Transcape: New Horizons reveals cross-continental commonalities, and the importance of anticipatory architecture in the context of emerging and precarious cultural dialogues.
Zoom Out / Zone Out
Using the work of thirteen photographers to portray 39 built projects, Zoom Out / Zone Out is a moving composition of multiple photographic narratives. The visuals flicker through thousands of sequences of construction documents and other archival materials, which have been reordered and collapsed into hundreds of photographs. Each building is revisited by artist Hyun-Suk Seo and its architect, Minsuk Cho, and rearranged into an an-archive. This dynamic performance is a fragmentary audiovisual combination of architectural structures and cinematic imagination; an anarchic subversion of the typical linear representation of architectural archives.
This series of sketches express structures that can’t be built, evoking eroticism, seduction, and tantric Buddhism. Architect Moon Hoon grew up in a coal-mining town in Sangdong, Korea, and memories of that environment (reminiscent of Russian constructivist drawings, or the movie Total Recall) feed into his intense doodles.
House No. 11 (Corridor House)
At some point, the corridor killed a certain type of architecture. It was all about transit, all the time. Architecture focused on the circulation of things, people, air, light, goods; space became a lubricant. Architecture embraced the efficiency of the short circuit, a faster way of getting from one place to another. Nowadays, corridors are a necessary afterthought, an indifferent chasm joining this to that in houses everywhere. Full-scale model House No. 11 occupies that circuitry, vaguely resembling both the strange figures of suburban corridors as well as the openness of a Miesian courtyard home.
180 Square Meters
One of the most complex issues facing architects is working in contexts of high levels of inequality and extreme contrasts between the ways in which the rich and the poor live in and occupy cities. In most cases, architects choose to work either with the wealthy and powerful or poor and dispossessed. Architect Joe Noero has chosen to work in both sectors simultaneously, allowing one to subsidize and inform the other. His work exemplifies his belief that architecture can create the necessary conditions for change. This project showcases two designs: one at 175 sq.m. (~1,880 s.f.) for a wealthy family on the Cape Peninsula (African) coast; the other a state-subsidized home of 44 sq.m. (~470 s.f.) for a low-income family.
This pop-up pavilion is sculpturally composed from the raw and historic limestone blocks that once protected the city’s shoreline. Its bold yet delicate balance aims to transform Chicago’s lakefront into a magnet for social and cultural life. Construction of this pavilion will be completed in early 2016, and components are being assembled in Millennium mark in the meantime; until then, a large scale model is now on view at the Chicago Cultural Center.
This gathering of several small houses is a miniature town for children, intended to be crawled through, played in, and moved around.
While Australian architecture is associated with bespoke pavilions in idyllic wilderness settings, mass-produced suburban housing is the norm. Australians have the largest average home sizes and living spaces of any nation; 24 million people occupy an area larger than the continental U.S. Australia is both one of the world’s most urbanized nations and among the least dense. The country’s interior is sparsely populated, and fewer than 10% of Australians live in close proximity to a city center; most inhabit the suburban in-between. Offset House aims to reveal the beauty and utility of the residential frame, peeling away layers of anachronistic construction, poor planning, and illogical furnishings. By reclaiming the frame for architecture, Otherothers hopes to reframe our collective relationship to the suburbs.
P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S + Casey Rehm
In its purposeful dichotomy and vague indeterminacy as both a plan oblique and a photo-realistic image, Oblicuo contests long-standing antagonisms – between abstraction and realism, simulation and representation, perspective and projection, object and field, drawing and image. The end result challenges fixed aesthetic notions of beauty and legibility in architectural representation, speculating on photorealism as it relates to the role and present status of architectural icons.
The design team Pedro&Juana has designed a set of furniture intended for high-volume use during the biennial in what used to be ‘Randolph Square’, a sort of public living room housed inside the Chicago Cultural Center. The space will be unstable, aiming to fulfill an uneasy ideal of domesticity in public. There will be rockers to rock on, sofas to lie on, tables to work at. They will all add up to a onversation between the body and the object, or maybe just between the furniture and the Chicagoans who use it.
People’s United Nations: pUN
Rather than a model version or a critique of the existing United Nations, pUN’s approach draws on the spirit of imagination and play to allow participants to engage in subjects whose magnitude is otherwise overwhelming. Over the course of a weekend, national representatives grapple with a set of hypothetical global proposals; although these proposals are often presented using the language of science fiction, they represent real issues at stake today. The installation is comprised of physical artifacts from the two conferences and a video showing highlights.
Pezo von Ellrichshausen
This kiosk is a device that embodies multiple visual references: from Hockney’s inverted perspectives to anonymous bell towers, water towers, lighthouses, silos, and chimneys, this pavilion is located on the campus of the Illlinois Institute of Technology. A diagrammatic model is on view at the Chicago Cultural Center.
The Playfulness of the Real
Utopia does not need to refer to ideal, nonexistent cities; current cities can live in new ways. This project aims to reveal the hidden potential of a vibrant reality, stimulating broader public awareness of architecture through images that feed the collective subconscious and produce a new, public, critical imagination, thereby also proposing a new political role for the architect. The compositions are playful and fun, and public space has a cultural role: a destination for identity and imagination.
Bold: Port Urbanism
The Big Shift
Although popularly considered “forever open, clear, and free,” in reality, Chicago’s lakefront has been in a constant state of transformation over the last 150 years. Much of this transformation has been economically and politically motivated throughout the city’s shifting economies. The Big Shift explores Chicago’s relationship to its lakefront by challenging the common perception of it as a fixed, unalterable line defining the edge of the city.
The End of Sitting–Cutout
In our society, the near entirety of our surroundings has been designed for sitting, even though evidence suggests that sitting for too long is unhealthy. This is an installation at the crossroads of architecture, visual art, philosophy, and health, exploring possibilities for radical change in office work environments within the next 10 years. Providing space for users to stand, lean, hang, or lay down while working, the installation’s various “affordances” (possibilities of action) invites visitors to explore different positions and interactions.
What does the diversity of life on city streets reveal? Scratching beneath the surface, can a deeper engagement with what is “seen” result in a more nuanced understanding of human commonalities? A series of photographs informed more by personal interactions and neighborly conversations than computational geocoding, mapping, and tax parcels, Sectional City questions the myth of Chicago as a coherent architectural and urban entity.
Foregrounding a playful synthesis of standard and custom design systems, Casa A tests an array of building enclosures. The different materials arranged on a common structure generate a prototypical prefabricated dwelling. The project exemplifies two parallel veins of design research, which here operate as a combined whole.
Smout Allen + Geoff Manaugh
21st century Los Angeles has inadvertently fulfilled Lebbeus Woods’ speculative vision of a hypothetical city shaped by seismic events. This permanent flux and lack of anchorage makes Los Angeles bathymetric, rather than terrestrial. LA Recalculated is a cartographic drawing – part map, part plan, part deep section – documenting the city as an archipelago of scientific instruments realized at the scale of urban infrastructure.
An inclined plane destabilizes; as a connection of horizontal places, the ramp is ambiguous and inherently in-between. At once an opportunity for disruption and an apparatus for universal access to space, the ramp as an architectural device has been the subject of extensive design and theoretical speculation. Passage is a reflection on the spatial qualities of the ramp.
Stefano Boeri Architetti
The Flying Gardeners
The Bosco Verticale residential towers, designed by this firm, were completed in 2014. Featuring trees, shrubs, and flowers, this new skyscraper typology calls for a new type of maintenance: flying gardeners. Every four months, they fly around the vertical forest, pruning, thinning, watering, and climbing. While taking care of the verdant environment, they have learned to observe the residential one as well: furniture, paintings on the wall, dirty dishes. Evidence of persons and families becomes multiple frames for new kinds of vegetal psychoanalytical stories.
Studio [D] Tale
In spite of the care taken by state and local authorities to regulate the estimated 4,500 individual operators registered as commuter-omnibus owners, passengers have a difficult time navigating freely throughout Harare, Zimbabwe. Studio [D] Tale’s research team has been gathering information from commuters and professional drivers to design a map for the formal and informal transit networks in their city. Dollar Vans is a means to offer the convenience of wayfinding, hoping to allow people to get to know their city so that they may discover new neighborhoods through the intervention of low-cost, community-based designs and research.
In the construction industry, the culture of reuse spread widely in North American cities during the recent recession, but for now, this practice of reuse is more a social phenomenon than an architectural one. Makeshift is an exploration of that theme and process, experimenting with improvisation in architecture similar to that in music. The installation is intended to be occupied and is imagined as an ideal space for musical performance and improvisation.
In December 2014, President Obama commissioned a group of experts to studio police violence against people of color; in May 2015, they published their findings and recommendations in the “Final Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.” This blueprint for cities and towns to develop policing strategies that build trust while enhancing safety is extensive and promising, yet does not address the buildings that are used nor the potential for the built environment to usher in the changes that are urgently sought. Polis Station is conceived as a supplement to the report, translating architectural research and community engagement into speculative architectural and urban design intended to stimulate a new thread of productive conversation on policing and its future.
There are more than 30 million homes in Mexico, but with a total population of 120 million people and one of the highest population growth rates in Latin America, the country’s housing shortage amounts to a total of nine million homes, and growing. Within this context, Tatiana Bilbao has developed a project whose most important objective is to create a housing prototype with good spatial and material qualities at an affordable price. This full-scale prototype adopts the form of an archetypical house (most notably, a pitched roof) while adaptable to geographic, social, and cultural variations.
Entering into the installation, the visitor’s senses must reorient to a darkened environment dotted with glowing sculptures articulated in silvery spider silk. Formed of complex interwoven geometries suspended in air, each appears as a unique galaxy floating within an expansive, infinite landscape. (Actual spiders not included in the installation.)
Filter Island seeks to redesign the Chicago river and conceptualize new civic possibilities, drawing from the city’s legacy of leveraging infrastructural improvements for new civic space. The first step toward this dual goal is to damn the Chicago river near the confluence of its three branches, transforming them into two separate waterways, the new South Branch and the new Chicago River. Filter Island proposes to clean the new Chicago River by filtering pollutants in a series of large-scale bio-cells. Rather than hide the water-cleaning process, Filter Island reveals it. Rather than employ a heavy, industrial, energy-intensive system, it is a passive, low-energy water-treatment sponge. Finally, it is a hybrid landscape combining the transportation of water with new recreational spaces.
Vo Trong Nghia Architects
Total housing area in Vietnam has increased tenfold over the last decade, and yet many familes continue to live in extremely small houses. As a response, VTN has developed the S House, a proposal for low-income households in the Mekong Delta area. The key features of the home are fast construction, durability, affordability, easy transportability, flexibility, and customizability. Three prototypes have been built, including one full-scale demonstration on view here, and VTN is now moving towards mass production and overseas expansion.
WAI Architecture Think Tank
Narrative Architecture: A Manifesto
There is a form of architecture that aims at not getting built: an architecture on paper that should not be confused with paper architecture. This form of architecture focuses on the critique of ideology, after recognizing that ideology – in its multiple incarnations – has infiltrated all spheres of architectural production, including the sphere of criticism itself. Through narrative texts and a vast repertoire of images, this exhibit creates allegories that aim to expose the impasses and misfires of architecture in theory and in practice.
Bold: Weathers with AECOM
Two of the greatest pressures on society today include humanity’s manipulation of the environment and the advancement of bioengineering for the human body. The first changes the makeup of physical space; the second, the body that perceives that space. At this intersection are the physical boundaries that define architectural space. The focus of Second Sun is to integrate these two rapidly advancing industries as an epicenter of architecture’s spatial, social, environmental, and ethical discourse.
Wolff Architects received a brief for structure to celebrate Cape Town as the World Design Capital in 2014: “Design something the world will never forget. Something that will be associated with Cape Town forever after. Something temporary.” The response as a halo of light, 100m (330’) in diameter, that appeared at night above Lion’s Head, a mountain that towers over the city. The structure of the halo is based on the tensegrity developed by Buckminster Fuller; its quality of light can radically transform locations and ignite new uses of space.
WORKac + Ant Farm
3-C.CITY: Climate, Convention, and Cruise
This project, a collaboration between Ant Farm and WORKac, reexamines three of Ant Farm’s seminal projects: the House of the Century, Convention City, and Dolphin Embassy. 3-C.City is a city on the sea with a synthetic harbor where docking is welcome. The project translates into a set of issues or critical overlaps that guides both art and architecture: politics, communication, form, scale, environment, systems, food, diplomacy, the future, and counter-/post-America. It is a center for discussing and negotiating worldwide issues, for hard-science research and for social issues. It is a learning environment and an agent of change.