The title of the 2015 edition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial is ‘The State of the Art of Architecture’ and there are five Dutch participants. One of them is SO-IL. The installation they show at the Biennial is called ‘Passage’.
Realized as part of the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial, Passage is a reflection on the spatial qualities of the ramp. As a connection of horizontal planes, the ramp is inherently an ambiguous, in-between space. Often unnoticed in daily life, the ramp presents itself as an opportunity for disruption.
The experience of being on a ramp is clearly directional, up or down and its change in gradient subtly affects one’s sense of self. In response to a perceived incline and distance, our navigational sense corrects one’s movement by adjusting pace and posture. This installation endeavors to interrupt this ingrained response by heightening an awareness of one’s body in space.
Passage consists of a series of portals that envelop the space of the ramp at the Chicago Cultural Center and an aerial photograph of the Chicago skyline —taken by Iwan Baan— that spans the length of the ramp. Each portal is a unique form and shape. When seen from a distance, the overall structure increases the volumetric presence of the ramp. Traversing through the ramp, the sequence of portals unfolds as individual picture frames, establishing a sense of pace and rhythm to one’s movement, and revealing glimpses of the photographed city beyond the portals. The repetition of frames slows or accelerates the perception of movement and their varied heights shift the perception of perspective.
The installation is composed of standard, off-the-shelf steel studs—an omnipresent architectural component that is seldom visible and typically beneath layers of sheetrock and insulation. Daylight from two large, glazed openings highlights the reflective surface of the portals and the individual presence of each frame. Prolonging the experience of transitioning from one state to another, the installation reimagines the everyday experience of encountering a ramp into something anew.
About SO – IL
SO–IL is an idea-driven design office that brings together extensive experience from the fields of architecture, academia, and the arts. A creative catalyst involved in all scales and stages of the architectural process, SO–IL approaches projects with an intellectual and artistic rigor fueled by a strong commitment to realizing ideas in the world. SO–IL is lead by partners Florian Idenburg, Jing Liu and Ilias Papageorgiou.
SO–IL has worked on an array of projects ranging in scale from the master plan of a cultural campus in Shanghai, China to a series of prints for the Guggenheim Museum. Projects include the flagship store for Benetton in NYC, student housing in Athens, Greece, the Shrem Museum of Art at the University of California in Davis, the Frieze Art Fair in NYC, and Kukje Gallery in Seoul.
The work has received numerous awards, including the MoMAPS1 Young Architects Program, the AIA Young Practices Award and the Emerging Voices award by the Architectural League. SO–IL has been widely featured in international publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fast Company and Domus, and in exhibitions at the Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urbanism, Studio-X in Beijing, Kunsthal KAdE in The Netherlands and the Benaki Museum in Greece. The work of SO–IL is part of the collections of the MoMA, the Art Institute Chicago and the Guggenheim Museum.