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Our proposal for the Chicago Biennial Kiosk Design draws upon the verticality of Chicago and is inspired by the gridiron pattern with which the city is organized. Its grid is more formally aligned to Ludwig Hilberseimer’s grid proposal for Marquette Park, integrating spines and dead ends, encouraging a linearity at some moments and more intersections of functions and movements within its grid.

Further, through our research, we were taken by the spirit of playfulness of the Columbian World Expo with its introduction of ferris wheels, diaromas and other sources of amusement. Our kiosk seeks to evoke this spirit of playful interaction and movement within its structure.

Finally, in reflecting on the state of the art in architecture, and the world expo theme of “a century of progress” the structural vocabulary of our kiosk seeks to resonate with water towers, ladders, hand rails, celebrating the overlooked elements of industrial architecture that are the supporting structures of contemporary cities and buildings.

The grid of our kiosk can also be read as a three dimensional interpretation of a game of “chutes and ladders”. The ancient Indian origins of this game invite the player to move through a gridded board which was covered with symbolic images, the top featuring gods, angels, and majestic beings, while the rest of the board was covered with pictures of animals, flowers and people. The ladders represented virtues while the snakes represented vices. The morality lesson of the game was that a person can attain salvation (Moksha) through doing good, whereas by doing evil one will inherit rebirth to lower forms of life. In the original version, the number of ladders was less than the number of snakes as a reminder that a path of good is much more difficult to tread than a path of sins. Presumably, reaching the last square represented the attainment of Moksha (spiritual liberation from desire). In this version, the dice are fatalistic. You must accept the destiny set out for you as determined by the dice.

In our version, we’ve eliminated the fatality of the dice. Our player is more in control choosing which ladder to climb up with and then, which ladder or “vice” to bring him/her down. It is therefore a game of ladders and ladders.

Further, we seek to encourage desire, seeing desire as Mark Cousins does “as the economy of non-satisfaction” from which the compulsion to make objects arises. We see our kiosk as a reflection of the architect’s process and its matrices of desire. As Michael Hays reflects, in the Lacanian system “desire is the force of cohesion which holds the elements of pure singularity together in a coherent set.”

Unlike the original “chutes and ladders” the final destination in our kiosk is not a liberation of desire, but it is more the creation of a tension which seeks to subtly propagate desire. The journey to the final destination is somehow resonant with the original with dead ends, birds and trees as you rise up to the kiosk.

Project Team: Manar Moursi. Alia Mortada, Mohamed Rafik