Chicago Architecture Biennial 2021 on community and urban space

The 2021 Chicago Architecture Biennial has announced its list of contributors – and it's a rich, diverse and exciting one, tapping into critical ideas, such as urban and social sustainability, vacant spaces, diversity and community 

Boarderless Studio project photo looking from above
Boarderless Studio
(Image credit: TBC)

The Chicago Architecture Biennial is gearing up for its fourth edition, and the organisers have just announced the contributors taking part this year, responding to the festival's overall theme, ‘The Available City'. The list, rich and diverse, is exciting, tapping into innovators pomoting important ideas, such as urban space, social sustainability, diversity and community, instigating deep architectural debate.

The festival's artistic director David Brown has paired these creatives with local community groups in Chicago, and together the teams will explore ‘forms of shared, collective space and inspire new and imaginative uses of vacant spaces in the city'. As a result, events and exhibits will pop up across town, including neighbourhoods such as North Lawndale, Woodlawn, Bronzeville, Pilsen, South Loop, the Loop, and Edgewater. 

Ania Jaworska portrait

Contributor Ania Jaworska

(Image credit: TBC)

A total of 29 participating studios and individuals come from all corners of the world, spanning Cape Town, Caracas, Chicago, Copenhagen, Dublin, Paris, Basel and Tokyo. Exhibitors include Atelier Bow-Wow from Tokyo, global practice Gensler, Studio Ossidiana from Rotterdam, Matri-Archi(tecture) from Basel and Cape Town, In Care of Black women from Chicago, and Fala from Porto.  

The biennial is set to offer a varied output on vacant urban space, including installations, activations, exhibits, projects and programmes. ‘The Available City results from a long interest in the landscape of vacant spaces that are so prevalent in many cities across the US, and beyond,' said Brown. ‘The 2021 edition asks us to imagine the transformative possibilities of collective spaces within those vacant spaces through a process of exchange and collaboration between designers and local residents. I look forward to the conversations introduced by the 2021 contributors given their global perspectives and connections.'

The event, which is planned to unfold in both physical form and on digital platforms, is scheduled to open its doors on 17 September 2021.

Ana Miljački headshot

Ana Miljački (Critical Broadcasting Lab at MIT)

(Image credit: TBC)

Atelier Bow-Wow portrait

Atelier Bow-Wow

(Image credit: TBC)

Central Park Theater Restoration Committee zoom screen shots

Central Park Theater Restoration Committee

(Image credit: TBC)

Christophe Hutin Architecture headshot

Christophe Hutin Architecture

(Image credit: TBC)

Departamento del Distrito portrait

Departamento del Distrito

(Image credit: TBC)

Drawing Architecture Studio portrait

Drawing Architecture Studio. Photography: Hu Kangyu and Yan Hu

(Image credit: Hu Kangyu and Yan Hu)

El Cielo portrait

El Cielo

(Image credit: TBC)

Englewood Nature Trail project photo

_TRACE mural project designed and painted by TRACErs in partnership with Englewood muralist Just Flo - 2018. Photography: TRACE - Eric Hotchkiss

(Image credit: Eric Hotchkiss, TRACE)

Enlace Arquitectura + Cuidad Laboratorio

Enlace Arquitectura + Cuidad Laboratorio. Photography: Elisa Silva

(Image credit: Elisa Silva)

fala portrait

The fala partners

(Image credit: TBC)

Gensler (Stone Soup Group) Hypo Park project photo

Hypo Park by Gensler (Stone Soup Group)

(Image credit: TBC)

Hood Design Studio headshot

Hood Design Studio

(Image credit: TBC)

in care of Black women three headshots

In care of Black women

(Image credit: TBC)

Jill Desimini headshot

Jill Desimini

(Image credit: TBC)


Marti-Arch(itecture), Urban Nomads In Johannesburg 2019. Image: Matri Archi And Archdaily Khensani De Klerk

(Image credit: Matri Archi, Archdaily Khensani De Klerk)

Outpost Office headshot

Outpost Office

(Image credit: TBC)


Port, Oval Plus 2018. Photography: Albert Yee

(Image credit: Albert Yee)


Silverroom by ProjectHOOD

(Image credit: TBC)

Studio Barnes headshot

Studio Barnes (pictured) with Shawhin Roudbari and MAS Context

(Image credit: TBC)

Studio Ossidiana portrait

Studio Ossidiana. Photography: Arthur Schoonenberg

(Image credit: Arthur Schoonenberg)


All Access Home, 2019. Studioapt. Image: John Mcmorrough

(Image credit: John Mcmorrough)

The Bittertang Farm

The Bittertang Farm: Being Storefront For Art And Architecture 30th Anniversary Exhibition, 2013

(Image credit: TBC)

The Open Workshop portrait

The Open Workshop. Photography: Neeraj Bhatia

(Image credit: Neeraj Bhatia)

Toni Griffin portrait

Toni Griffin at Urban American City

(Image credit: TBC)

Farnoosh Rafaie portrait

Farnoosh Rafaie from Riff Studio, LLC

(Image credit: TBC)


Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).