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Posts Tagged ‘Chicago Architecture Biennial’

BY ZACH MORTICE

The nitrate mining town of María Elena in Chile. Photo by Ignacio Infante.

For an exhibit focused on extractive industries, Beyond the City: The South American Hinterland in the Soils of the 21st Century is mercifully short on aerial photos of strip mines and oil derricks. Instead, the installation by Somatic Collaborative now at the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial focuses on the human settlements that serve resource extraction industries.

Beyond the City catalogs five South American cities established or expanded because of the growth of heavy industry from the late 19th century to the mid-20th century. The five case studies are spread across three nations and several extraction, or at least exceptionally invasive, industries: gold mines in Belo Horizonte, Brazil; nitrate mines in María Elena, Chile; oil drilling in Judibana, Venezuela; iron mining in Ciudad Guayana, Venezuela; and the production of hydropower in Vila Piloto, Brazil. Each of the cities shares “a very strong national or state government that was pushing forward a project that they believed would advance a larger greater good,” says Somatic Collaborative cofounder Felipe Correa, the chair of the architecture school at the University of Virginia (UVA). These public–private partnerships sought to develop housing and working environments for a white-collar managerial class that would guide populist infrastructure expansions harvested from this land. “Industry had a social project,” Correa says. “If you look at what oil companies are doing in the middle of the Amazon today, they’re completely devoid of a social project.” Beyond the City presents historical evidence on how this mandate was introduced, but the exhibition trails off once each town left its designers’ hands. (more…)

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Design disciplines often bounce around words hinting at the experimentation with practices beyond their expertise: multidisciplinary, collaborative. And it is this idea of expansion beyond one’s discipline that Outside Design wants to explore. From now until December 19, the exhibit will be on display at the Sullivan Galleries at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as a collateral event to the first Chicago Architecture Biennial. Landscape architecture, architecture, art, materials, agriculture, biology, and more collide in “laboratories” installed on site that change throughout the period of their installment. Using frogs to measure oxygen levels in buildings, reclaimed materials for human and animal cohabitation, and a compact self-sustaining system, these installments experiment with creating fluid movement between neighboring professions.

If you are attending the 2015 ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO, be sure to stop by during the Sullivan Galleries open hours, Tuesday–Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. For more information and a list of upcoming exhibit events, please visit here.

Credit: Images courtesy the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sullivan Galleries; “Honey Windows,” “Habitat Wall,” “Amphibious Envelope,” “Biodynamic Feedback Loop,” Tony Favarula; “Black Gold Magic,” Christine Kousgaard.

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