The Artistic Director for the fourth edition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, titled The Available City, is David Brown. Brown is a designer, researcher, and educator based at the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Brown’s work investigates non-hierarchical, flexible, and variable approaches to urban design. His concept and title for the 2021 edition, The Available City, asks us to consider the impact collective space can have in cities today.
“Platforms such as the Biennial offer a unique space for exploring and experimenting with new ideas and projects. Since 2015, collaborations with CAB have helped shape The Available City and I look forward to how this next phase of the project will bring new perspectives to my work with community organizations and residents while also broadening the conversation—as amplified by current issues—about the role that collective space can have in cities around the world today.” —David Brown
A concept that was incubated during the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial in 2015, Brown’s long-term body of research forming the basis for The Available City began with an inventory of vacant city-owned lots across Chicago—currently numbering more than 10,000 sites concentrated on the city’s South and West Sides. Over more than a decade of work, Brown developed this research into an ongoing urban design proposal that connects community residents, architects, and designers to work together to create spaces reflecting the needs of local neighborhoods. For the 2021 edition, Brown will explore the framework of The Available City on a global platform, engaging both local and international projects and practices that reflect new concepts for shared space and collective agency in the city.
Much of Brown's work is based in the North Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago, where the images featured in this article were taken. Brown collaborates with a network of residents and community organization in North Lawndale, including the groups that run the neighborhood's more than 30 community gardens.
Through a reinvented and responsive global platform, the Biennial will create opportunities for conversations about the intersection of architecture and design and such critical issues as health, sustainability, equity, and racial justice leading up to and throughout the run of the edition. The fourth edition of the Biennial will open in September of 2021 featuring free, public programming at sites in neighborhoods across Chicago and on digital platforms.