Circle the Wagons: A Community Enclave


Circle the Wagons: A Community Enclave. © David Schalliol.


Building upon the urban exploration of vacancy proposed in The Available City project by David Brown, nine Chicago-based teams present their own responses to the issue at stake. Employing drawings and models, each project investigates the architectural possibilities of vacancy, with a specific focus on the role of collective spaces and the relationships they can foster. Diverse in their location, scale, program, and aesthetic sensibility, these projects ultimately demonstrate that we can leverage vacancy to generate new architectural scenarios that have the potential to address current social and economic issues.


Project by Margaret McCurry, Tigerman McCurry Architects


Sited on a quarter of a vacant block owned by the City of Chicago and made available for a planned unit development (PUD) is an aesthetically conceived interactive community of affordable housing created from recycled shipping containers. Six 25′ x 125′ city lots were replatted to form a sustainable enclave of diversely configured, artfully colored units with green roofs and solar panels.

The parcel is ringed with thickets of shrubs and small trees, providing nesting sites, shelter, and a food source for wildlife. On the remaining land, a Great Plains ecosystem of native prairie grasses and plants provides habitat for endangered pollinators such as hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies. Centered within this Tall Grass Prairie is a communal gathering place with a sand box and a fire pit. Bicycle and recycling containers, a greenhouse, and a half basketball court provide community support facilities.



Axonometric. © Margaret McCurry.



Axonometric (Detail). © Margaret McCurry.



Plan. © Margaret McCurry.



Plan (Detail). © Margaret McCurry.



Section. © Margaret McCurry.



Section (Detail). © Margaret McCurry.



Model. © Iker Gil.



Model and boards. © David Schalliol.


Tigerman McCurry Architects
Margaret McCurry assisted by Margaret Sullivan.


Margaret McCurry is a partner of Tigerman McCurry Architects and the recipient of Honor Awards from both the AIA National and Chicago Chapters as well as Interior Design Awards from IIDA and ASID. Her projects have been published widely in architectural and interior magazines and exhibited at museums and galleries in the US and abroad. She has lectured at design conferences, schools of architecture and taught design studios. The author of two monographs, Margaret McCurry: Constructing Twenty-Five Short Stories (The Monacelli Press, 2000) and Distillations: The Architecture of Margaret McCurry (ORO Editions, 2011), McCurry is former Chair of the National AIA Committee on Design and has been President of the Alumni Council of Harvard’s GSD, Director of the Alumni Association (HAA), and President of the Harvard Club of Chicago. She currently serves on several boards including the Architecture and Design Society and the Textile Department at the Art Institute of Chicago.

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