There are two exhibitions at the Chicago Architecture Biennial that have the potential to be outstanding, and are actually the most spoken off in social media and in general Biennial conversations: The Horizontal City and The Vertical City. The first is about reimagining interior architecture, whereas the latter is a revisit of the Chicago Tribune Tower Competition in 1922.

However, out of the 24 interiors, and 16 towers, just a handful of models are at a scale where the concept, and its materialization, are consistent. There are many projects that could have been represented at 1:100 with no need to scale it up to 1:5. The same happens with IIT´s College of Architecture collaboration with SANAA, where an unnecessarily big site model with a couple man-made mountains add to Chicago’s flat topography.

In my opinion, the following projects showcase the best use of scale within their exhibits:


“The Grand Interiors” by MAIO Architects


This exploration of blending interiors uses the double frame door by Marcel Duchamp in 1927 as a symbolizer that the residential spaces are increasingly interconnected. With open kitchen, open plan, an indoor/outdoor living rooms already as an established trend; more ephemeral spaces such as hotels and rental apartments are exploring with open restrooms that can either seem a reminiscence of Le Corbusier´s bathroom designs, or an additional extravagant feature to expensive hotel rooms.

In this exhibition, MAIO architects juxtaposed an uncolored classical ceiling through the reflection of the mirrored surface, with vibrant pink prints of residential furniture items. A layering of history and current trendiness.


“(Not) Another Tower” by Tatiana Bilbao Architects


How to create a true self sufficient vertical community? Where a gym, a grocery store, parking space, apartments, flexible empty structures, and any other use you can think of; can coexist within a vertical 3D grid. With Tatiana having commissioned the different levels to young architects worldwide to inhabit her empty structure, the result is a real community that solves different needs under one roof.

We keep having more and more towers that combine different programs. However, developer’s economy keep driving construction and the way we shape cities, resulting in hundreds of floors with the same office layout, and then switching into dozens of residential of levels with the same residential floor plans.

This model combines therefore two scales, a bigger structural scale, and a smaller grain that fills in the voids to create a playful tower with anecdotes that are a joy to discover.



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