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architecture studio 4 // SAIC Spring 2017

Radical reimagination of non-hierarchical systems 


Amidst the ongoing developments focalized in Cermak Chinatown, the community vision pushes forward these plans for a higher quality of life in the place they call home. However the question is,  who is included or invited to be a part of this community? S.L.U.M.S. stands for "Seeking Livability Under Multiple Scenarios". With the rising need for flexible diversity, a nexus of work development is needed for isolated members of society to reconnect within their local community.

This can be reimagined in two ways:

a.) Developments has also seen some parallels with dispersals and or displacements of the urban poor, thus our project is to articulate the unspoken parallels in developing communities and pursuing a design that envelopes a non hierarchical system through an abundance of programs that stands as a connection hub.

b.) Through focusing on restorative developments within the context of rapid recent developments elements of public space are reinterpreted to reflect these notions of radical change through free flowing and dynamic planes.

design process.


precedent study


site research


data analysis





1. site research: creating the narrative

Site: Cermak and Chinatown, Chicago IL 60616

In 2016, the 62 acre lot between Roosevelt Road and Ping Tom Park residents of Rezkoville the former Tent City had been cleared out dispersed. Oftentimes with new developments follow dispersal of isolated communities such as Rezkoville’s homeless. While going through the site, my partner and I came across a group of homeless men that were taking shelter under the highway pass at 18th St. We conversed and discovered that they were forced to clear out from Rezkoville and after a meal and some supplies we gave the men directions to the nearest homeless shelter that they had no idea existed. The encounter became the driving force behind the project, and creative inclusivity became the central motif that can be found throughout the project. 

2. precedent study: new babylon

  • New Babylon x New Urbansim = URBAN BABYLON

    • Concepts of classless society that overlooks old regime through an abundance of programs that liberates man from social hierarchy, emphasis on non-hierarchical systems 

    • Homoludens: man at play. Highlighting man’s free will which gives man the capacity to create non-hierarchical systems

    • Need liberation from belief systems rooted in current culture. Pragmatic approach would be to create new visualizations to change the way people see the world. Ex. Active practice of creative mapping which translates the representations and realities through subjective judgement, grounded in objective factual. 

3. analyze data

To better understand the surrounding neighborhood assets, a network diagram was mapped to visualize the connections available within a 1.5 mile radius. The map also includes zoning information on recent planned developments. Existing housing situations were mapped out within a half mile radius of the site to grasp need for affordable housing in the area. Variations were developed in the second drawing alongside  historical context and population demographics.

4. ideate: design responses

  • Our Design Responses:

    • New babylonian-esque structural frameworks that not only physically stands as a connection between old and new chinatown, but also connects all existing systems that would aid in development of community as a diverse whole

    • Also creating opportunities for (Uses of tomorrow) capacity studies

    • Vertical circulation that enhances flexible growth

    • Well articulated new urbanistic ground level programs (focusing on how public realms can truly be for all) increasing value of ground floor plane

    • Open views that show effectiveness of programs (placing the same displaced people in different contexts to change the way they are viewed)

    • Open ground floor with new urban organizational strategies for easy navigation

    • Opening up the metra line wall to reinforce permeability

The abundance of programmatic elements play a key role in liberating and creating true public space for all. The ground floor plane has a landmark plaza as there exists Chinatown's historical landmarks, temporary light installation, children's playground, water walk, as well as basketball courts. A key feature of the ground floor plan is the One Stop Plan Initiative that fills up most of the interior spaces on this floor. On the second floor exists the educational facilities as well as therapeutic and rehabilitation spaces. The third floor consists of office and vocational training spaces featuring a culinary and dining space. The fourth floor consists of a job agency that headquarters as the central node of neighborhood assets and networks. 

5. experiment: exploring visionary ways of representation

The key concepts of this project have lofty, high aspirational and visionary elements; provoking one's imagination and opens dialogue of the issue of inclusive and incremental growth. To keep a consistency, graphical styles and model making techniques that were much more experimental and provocative were selected. This way, we were able to draw our audience to imagine alongside us, the aspirations and potency of the project. 

Team: Jakky Figueroa, Jessica Moon

Target User: Chinatown residents

Duration: 4 months

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