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Project Summary

The Vessel is envisioned as an organism for culture, providing an eco-system for unlimited occupants. Just as a hermit crab nestles into its shell, vendors will nestle into the kiosk to take shelter and find their sense of place on the lakefront. At all other times it is an inviting shell to be occupied by all: from families, musicians, yoga classes, dance or theater performances, poetry, and art installations, it becomes an activity generator to enliven the lakefront. As in a reef, the more an element can be adapted for a multitude of nature’s needs, the more it is a part of its ecosystem. The Vessel will be something:

• to inhabit,
• to grow on,
• to provide respite, and
• to frame and celebrate nature’s beauty

Our intent is to have The Vessel echo nature to become a part of nature. With a curving form alluding to sand prints, dunes, waves, and snowdrifts, it is reflective of the forces of nature; they are all forms that recall the influence of something that once was, the tide or a breeze, and now is only the remnant of its presence.

Its flexibility is enhanced by photovoltaic fins that provide natural independence from the electrical grid. It carries its own storage much as a snail carries its home.

The Vessel’s ribbed support system takes its skeletal queues from leaves, ships and shells.

The repetitive structural form twists and turns as you approach, making The Vessel visually kinetic while allowing glimpses through to the water or city.

Our choice of The Vessel’s shell material, hemp resin, stems from a desire to use the region’s rich history of both agriculture and manufacturing alongside a repetitive form that is easily assembled and dis-assembled.

Hemp resin is an advanced material combining rapidly-renewable natural fibers, cultivated in the Great Lakes Basin, and environmentally sustainable resins with manufacturing processes.

The Vessel is formed of bio-composite panels, typically, unwoven Hemp or Kenaf matting infused with BASF Acrudor Resin, a water-based formaldehyde-free binder. Composites made of natural fibers are dimensionally stable, strong, show good fracture behavior, and, yet, are light-weight. This material would be molded in two piece molds based upon a series of typical panels and ribs integrated with structural reinforcing to form the panels.

We propose that this process, from seed to composite panel to assembled structure, would be on display during the Chicago Architecture Biennial to promote advanced sustainability. The Vessel would become a knowledge destination for all learning styles: visual, logical, verbal, physical and aural.


Chicago, IL


Design Vignette

Man abandons, nature adapts. A seashell becomes a hermit crab’s home and a dying tree, an owl’s nest. Nature even takes over man’s creations and makes them part of its ecosystem: migratory birds rest in bell towers and a shipwreck becomes a reef. Man can emulate nature’s transformative powers by creating elements that become a part of life’s ecosystem.

In our view, this kiosk is a host ‘vessel’ that should be of nature, self-sustaining, moveable and flexible, allowing for a bevy of uses, planned and impromptu. Its embracing framework is delightful and enlivens the lakefront with a kinetic design that changes according to location, time of day and season. Multiple visits are encouraged through visual interest and layers of discovery for the user to peel back each time they visit. It will be an activity generator to enhance cultural life on the lakefront and promote state-of-the-art architecture to the world.