The inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial opens to the public this weekend. Speaking at a preview today, curators Sarah Herda and Joseph Grima said the exhibition showcases architects who are carving out new ways to practice.
"We really see the exhibition as a site of experimentation," Herda told journalists. "This is not a place to look at pictures of buildings, it's a place to figure out the future of buildings."
The architecture biennial – the first of its kind in North America – is titled The State of the Art of Architecture. But participants were not given a theme, they were simply asked to explore the possibilities of architecture and present their findings.
The results include a structure built from rocks and twine, a landscape of office furniture, futuristic drawings and a courtyard transformed into an adventure playground.
The are also four prototypes for housing concepts, including a low-cost house by Vo Trong Nghia, a reconfigurable dwelling by SelgasCano, a house of corridors by MOS Architects and a sustainable home for Mexico by Tatiana Bilbao.
"Though we didn't have that central theme, issues and concerns emerged quickly," said Herda, who is also the director of the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts in Chicago.
"Architects around the world are carving out new ways to practice and new ways to make architecture matter. They're not waiting necessarily for a brief. They're taking on the possibilities and opportunities that they see around them."
Also on show are visions for the future of Chicago from local firms, as well as a study of community-focussed projects in rural Chinese villages, an investigation into campsites and an exploration into the role of domestic furniture. "I think one of the fundamental messages of this biennial is that no project is too small to matter in architecture," said Grima, who has previously curated the Biennale Interieur in Kortrijk and the Istanbul Design Biennial.
More than 100 designers from around the globe are participating in the first Chicago Architecture Biennial, including Studio Gang, BIG, Diébédo Francis Kéré and Sou Fujimoto.
Instagram users and participants have been posting images of the projects, ahead of the official public opening on Saturday 3 October. It runs until 3 January 2016.
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