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studioBASAR

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studioBASAR
Alex Axinte and Cristi Borcan, from studioBASAR, with their dog Una. Courtesy studioBASAR
Reacting against Romania’s history of privatization, distrust, and top-down decision making in the realm of urban development, studioBASAR set out to empower a wide variety of people and practices in a quest for social transformation. Its founders, Alex Axinte and Cristi Borcan, saw architecture as a tool for effecting this transformation, providing a platform for collaboration among communities and creative professionals in questioning existing uses of public and private space and proposing new ones. Its strategies include collaborative design and production, research by design, placemaking activities, civic pedagogy, and creative reuse of existing structures. The studio’s ultimate goal is the creation of cities that are more collaborative, accessible, and just. Among its recent honors, studioBASAR was recognized as a finalist for the 2014 European Prize for Urban Public Space, and it received the 2018 Romanian National Cultural Fund Award for “cultural activation in relation to the public space.”

Established 2006, Bucharest, Romania

Biennial Project

Breaking Ground: The Schoolyard Workshops, 2019
Multimedia installation

Commissioned by the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial

Daniel Hale Williams Preparatory School of Medicine student partici-pants: R’Monie Bobo, Shanice Carlton, Jamira Catchings, Anisa Harris, Spencer Harris, Brierra Jones, Starr Kemp, Martiana Mayo, Samiyah Morgan, Keaira Smith, Jayden Todd

Chicago Academy for the Arts participant: Ilse Marquez

Tutors: Alex Axinte and Cristi Borcan from studioBASAR, Phillip Cotton from Daniel Hale Williams Preparatory School of Medicine, Margy Stover from the Chicago Academy for the Arts, Scott Sikkema from Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education (CAPE)

Special thanks to Paola Aguirre Serrano from Borderless Studio and Cassandra Rice from site design group.

studioBASAR views architecture as a tool for transformation, providing a platform for communities and creative professionals to question existing uses of public and private space and propose new ones. Its strategies include collaborative design and production, research by design, community activation, live education, civic pedagogy, and creative reuse of existing structures. The studio’s ultimate goal is the establishment of cities that are more collaborative, accessible, and just. In summer 2019,  studioBASAR and students from Daniel Hale Williams Preparatory School of Medicine and the Chicago Academy forthe Arts envisioned possible transformations of the courtyard at the former Anthony Overton Elementary Schoolin Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood. Through live educational workshops, they imagined how now-closed civicspaces—schools, libraries, community centers—could once again become active public and community hubs. The second phase of the project will take place over a week during the run of the Biennial: the team will build a multipurpose structure in support of different activities for the former school’s neighborhood.
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