SO-IL Uses Steel Studs To Create A Latticed Archway Inside Chicago Biennial Headquarters

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Chicago Architecture Biennial 2015: New York firm SO-IL has utilised off-the-shelf steel studs to make a canopy structure for a ramp inside a historic constructing in downtown Chicago .

Titled Passage, the set up was produced for the Chicago Architecture Biennial, which opened three October and runs to 3 January 2016.

The metal construction covers a gently sloping ramp within the Chicago Cultural Center, a late 19th-century Neoclassical creating that serves as the major venue for the Biennial. The ramp stretches in between an auditorium and the building’s primary banquet hall.

Passage by SO-IL for Chicago Architecture Biennial 2015

The 32-foot-tall (9.seven metres) archway is meant to experiment with the “spatial characteristics” of a standard ramp. “As a connection of horizontal planes, the ramp is an inherently ambiguous, in-amongst area,” said SO-IL. “Usually unnoticed in day-to-day existence, the ramp presents itself as an opportunity for disruption.”

The firm had originally set out to develop an installation for a sloped space inside the creating, but the organisers misunderstood the request and ended up assigning SO-IL the ramp spot.


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“We accepted this as a challenge,” stated Florian Idenburg, company co-founder. “Rather than a 2D picture of a 3D object or space, we believe architecture first and foremost is about producing a spatial experience. Therefore, we accepted the ramp as a website, since it did not enable for show and as this kind of manufactured a spatial intervention inevitable.”

Passage by SO-IL for Chicago Architecture Biennial 2015

Envisioned as a series of “portals,” the set up consists of tall, twisted frames manufactured of steel studs – a standard developing material typically found behind drywall and insulation.

“We utilized the most ubiquitous materials right now – the metal stud – but in an expressive way,” explained Idenburg. “We looked at the limits of what type can be achieved with the regular stud.”

The steel framing is also a nod to Mies van der Rohe’s use of the standard steel segment in numerous of his American buildings, specifically in Chicago.

Passage by SO-IL for Chicago Architecture Biennial 2015

Every single “portal” has a exclusive kind and form. “When witnessed from a distance, the general construction increases the volumetric presence of the ramp,” said the company.

Lining a single side of the passageway is an aerial picture of Chicago by architectural photographer Iwan Baan. As a visitor traverses the ramp, the squares in the canopy construction turn into “personal image frames, establishing a sense of pace and rhythm to one’s movement, and revealing glimpses of the photographed city,” stated the studio.

Beyond a tight budget and short time frame, Idenburg mentioned 1 demanding aspect of the task was retaining the ramp open during the construction method, considering that it is the only way for wheelchair customers to get amongst floors in the creating.

Passage by SO-IL for Chicago Architecture Biennial 2015

“It had to remain unobstructed all through the complete building time period, which meant we could operate only from midnight right up until 6am,” he stated.


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The Chicago Cultural Center – developed in 1897 and made by Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge – is the major venue for the Chicago Architecture Biennial.

Other installations on view inside the area include a prototype for lower-cost housing by Vo Trong Nghia Architects, a rock sculpture developed by a robot, and a proposal for a utopian city by WORKac and Ant Farm.

Described by curators Sarah Herda and Joseph Grima as a “web site of experimentation,” the Biennial attributes work by much more than one hundred designers all around the globe. The three-month-long occasion consists of installations, exhibitions and events.

Passage by SO-IL for Chicago Architecture Biennial 2015

Based mostly in Brooklyn, SO-IL was founded in 2008 by Idenburg and Jing Liu. The two met although operating at SANAA in Japan.

Other tasks by the firm contain the new Tina Kim Gallery in Manhattan and a proposed Artes Amant gallery in Brooklyn.

Photography is by Iwan Baan.


Venture credits:

Venture crew: Florian Idenburg, Jing Liu, Ilias Papageorgiou, Pietro Pagliaro, Lucie Rebeyrol, Kerim Miskavi, Kevin Lamyuktseung, Molly Minot Hubley, Danny Duong
Steel framing: Duraframe Steel Framing Answers
Installation: Techniques and Resources
Printing: Kubin-Nicholso

Passage by SO-IL for Chicago Architecture Biennial 2015Axonometric drawing Passage by SO-IL for Chicago Architecture Biennial 2015Strategy

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