February 23rd, 2016
Makeshift / Chicago Architecture Biennial, Chicago (U.S.A.), 2015
A project about reuse and improvisation which deals with these universal subjects starting from the local dimension, from two cultures rooted in the United States and particularly in Chicago. Two old or new local traditions to which this project wants to be a homage.

The culture of reuse, in the building field, has had a vast diffusion in North American cities during recent years of recession: the large number of organizations for the reuse of building materials that have flourished in the last years shaped a really important phenomenon that strengthens civic values and everyday ecological practices, contrasting consumerist ideology and re-opening in a new contemporary way the long-standing tradition of reuse architecture.

The culture of improvisation is something that crosses all the periods and areas of human activities. In the musical field, over the last century, Chicago has been a real cradle of this culture, particularly with the groundbreaking experience of AACM, Association for the Advancement of Creative Music. Improvisation is something that has also been a fundamental component in the practice of popular architecture, and more in general in the making of human habitat, for millennia until very recent times.

The adjective “makeshift” brings together the categories of reuse and improvisation: it implies something that is done with what is available in a given moment.

Our project is a construction made exclusively with materials available from the warehouse of the Chicago-based organization Rebuilding Exchange, engaged in deconstruction and reuse of building materials. It has been imagined from far away and then improvised in situ with what was at hand. It provides a place where visitors can rest for a moment and at the same time a variety of spaces where musicians can improvise their performances, transforming the Chicago Cultural Center monumental cascade of stairs and landing into a gallery for the audience. At the end of the Biennial it has been deconstructed by Rebuilding Exchange staff and its components returned to its warehouse to be sold as “third hand” building materials.

Carlo Micheletti / Micheletti Ingegneria

Sofia Celli, Claudio Rosiello, Enrico Sacchi

with the support of
Rebuilding Exchange, Chicago