Still Life in the Windy City
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Project Team Li Han / Hu Yan / Zhang Xintong / Wang Yuxuan / Tang Xinyu / Xu Xiaoxuan / Lyu Nuo / Meng Xinqi / Zhu Haihui / Zhong Junye / Yang Zhexu / Li Xuechen / Xu Meizhu / Gu Ang / Zhao Nini / Song Zitong

A traditional still life portrays objects arranged on a table; this drawing, in the form of a traditional Chinese scroll, extends the definition of objects to the scale of the city. Still Life in the Windy City illustrates life in an imagined community in the southwestern suburbs of Chicago that DAS developed referencing public space in Beijing. In both Chicago and Beijing, found objects may play a more powerful role in the community public space than architecture. Compared to architecture, objects are independent from their surroundings and are not bound to a fixed location. Objects are usually easer to make, more convertible, mobile, or sustainable, and they can bring more resources together. In this drawing, eight scenarios are depicted around different objects that transform their environment, including a tent that becomes a vegetable farm, fitness equipment that becomes an outdoor gym, furniture that creates a carpenter workshop. Additionally, markets sprout up in car trunks, various recycled items – such as furniture, home appliances and other discarded things – are used to make a garden, an inflatable device becomes a playground, a tricycle is used as a food stall, and a shipping container transforms into a stage. These functional objects become a series of hubs in the community, connecting people in the neighborhood. Still Life in the Windy City proposes that instead of creating new architecture, the modification and use of found objects offers creative solutions that nurture community building activities and yield a more flexible and sustainable future for design. Traditional Chinese school painting emphasizes spatial continuity with smooth transitions between scenes. While utilizing this technique, Still Life in the Windy City also integrates the illusion of depth borrowed from Renaissance frescoes. Here, identifiable Chicago architecture is depicted in the distance to render different urban perspective.