From July 15th to 19th, Creative Grounds and Chicago Architecture Biennial, hosted a bootcamp week for architects, designers, and artists from around the world who will be showcasing their work at Overton in September as part of the Architecture Biennial 2019 and Process(ing) Transformation. The three international teams will collaborate with locals to produce work related to Process(ing) Transformation's theme: MEMORY, INCLUSION, and/or EQUITY.
This design bootcamp week was an opportunity for CAB contributors to experience working in the school grounds, engaging in conversation and workshop time with their local partners for the design interventions that they had started to imagine, and to immerse themselves in Bronzeville community.
The three teams and their local collaborators are:
1. Architecture For All (Merve and Sarper) from Istanbul, Turkey, in collaboration with photographer, Sandra Steinbrecher, who will focus on Memory Journalism: collecting the "Memory of the Space" by using cooking & dining as a tool for dialogue. Merve and Sarper also had a chance to meet with Katanya Raby, Camille Applewhite and Ethan Lassiter of Black Space Chicago and exchange thoughts about a design intervention around food and community stories.
2. studio BASAR (Alex and Cristi) from Bucharest, Romania, in collaboration with students from Daniel Hale Williams Preparatory School and supported by Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education's program facilitated by Art and Design Teacher Phil Cotton and CAPE teaching artist Margy Stover, will explore Breaking Ground: Transforming Schoolyard into a social, ecological, and pedagogic space through creation of a community garden or "active space."
3. Zorka Wollny, a composer + choreographer from Berlin, Germany, in collaboration with Lionel Freeman (Brother El) and students from Dyett High School, will create Overton/E Hive: Hustle and bustle of youth through creation of a physical memory that incorporates concert and sound installation.
Throughout the week, we were all working simultaneously, but with different flows and agendas developing our own collaborative processes in different spaces throughout the school.
Monday: Kick-off + Neighborhood Walk
On Monday, we focused on getting to know each other and exchanging from our practices' experiences and perspectives. Throughout these presentations, we all had a common interest of raising awareness, working in collaboration, and challenging the status quo of design practice. In the afternoon, we walked around Bronzeville – even with +90 degrees and a very sunny day, we made our way from Overton down South to our neighbors at Sweet Water Foundation; we stopped along the way and shared stories about Rosenwald Courts, Robert Taylor Homes, Peach's on 47th Restaurant, Arts Incubator in Washington Park, and KLEO Center & Artists Residences (soon to be opened).
Tuesday: Collective Creativity
On Tuesday, the teams shared brief presentations on their working ideas for Overton. It was a day for sketching out ideas, unpacking concepts and discussing available/needed resources as well as community connections yet to be made. In the afternoon, we visited our neighbors in Boxville, a shipping container market representing local vendors and entrepreneurs, to see what they've been up to – we had a chance to speak with Build Bronzeville founder, Bernard Lloyd, about the multiple projects that are part of this initiative.
Wednesday: Project Workshops
From Wednesday, we focused in more hands-on activities and workshopping with students from Williams Prep High School as well as some students from One Summer Chicago program. It was a day to test out prototypes and ideas. Architecture for All's Merve and Sarper began interviewing visitors about local food with Sandra, studio BASAR's Alex and Cristi engaged Williams Prep students with workshops to explore how they could reimagine the school yard, and Zorka worked with the sound artist Lionel Freeman. Borderless also opened a spray painting workshop to repaint the Large-Scale Chicago Map in the parking lot on Indiana Avenue.
We continued working on-site in these projects during Thursday and Friday. It was an exciting week where we saw the potential for something greater and broader that goes beyond Bronzeville. It was very great to see different art and design practices from different cultures come together engaging in conversations about what's happening in Bronzeville and the impact of closed schools – more importantly, how design has a role in creating more inclusive spaces for communities to activate closed schools.