Installation | Ragdale Campus _Chicago

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Architectural project
Location _Ragdale Campus _Chicago | USA
Concept _Theatricality – Sustainability – Simplicity – Mobility

The historic Ragdale campus near Chicago is nearly five acres and features two main houses, open lawn areas, and views of the Shaw Prairie. For the next season, the curators are seeking inventive, site-responsive propolsals that explore intersections of architecture, sculpture, landscape, public art, and performance disciplines.

Two factors are particularly important: 1. A mobile stage that can be easily and effortlessly set up at various points on the Ragdale Campus. 2. A careful use of existing financial and material resources. We combine these two topics and propose the following implementation.

1. We borrow stable floorboards (10 feet long) from one of the nearby specialist companies, which usually act as flooring for scaffolding. These boards are very stable and give our design the appearance of a work- and test- platform. Because the courageous trying out, the previously untested experiment, the open-ended attempt are probably more important for the Ragdale performances than a perfect repetition of artistic presentations of which the performers are already absolutely certain.

2. We borrow 24 wooden cable drums from a local electricity company. On the one hand they function as wheels and on the other hand they refer to the critical topic of energy generation such as the origin of mobile systems. They refer also to the first, rather raw and imperfectly made mobile pedestals. A certain humor, a certain doubt about the demand for permanent mobility that can be realized nowadays, is therefore entirely intended.

3. A metal substructure connects four of these cable reels to a simple vehicle, the wooden planks are than mounted on this substructure as a stage floor. Six of these companions can easily be put together at different locations on the campus and in different configurations. A linear arrangement is conceivable, or a compact area of max. 20 x 20 feet, even a U-shaped, a cross-shaped, a T-shaped or semicircular stage… can be produced quickly. At the same time, these carriages also allow processions and choreographed movements through the park. Associations with parades are intended.

4. Four filigree wooden rod constructions (each 15 feet long) delimit the stage(s) area. Similar to the construction of tents, they are anchored in the natural ground to the rear with steel cables. A white fabric made of cotton or – better – discarded sailboat sails is stretched between these supports and serves as a rain/sun shelter. It supports the theatrical atmosphere and the physical presence of the temporary stages.

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