Constructing Factual Collectives with Speculative Fictions

In the summer of 2010, Alex Lehnerer and I founded The Department of Urban Speculation Chicago, a different kind of research practice within the framework of the University of Illinois at Chicago. Founded on principles of speculation, DeptUS explored architecture‘s role in the city and sought to subvert typical ways in which the discipline is used by urban planning practices.

However, when DeptUS was founded it did not have an office on the UIC campus, and it needed an exhibition space to showcase student work that was produced during a summer elective studio. Therefore, we decided to create an exhibition that satisfied both. The exhibition „Office Opening“ introduced DeptUS to UIC as well as Chicago, it curated student and design work that it had produced, and it also created an office in the gallery space of the Architecture and Design Building. Using white duct tape, some found file cabinets, a bureuacratic desk, and an old office chair, DeptUS drew, at 1:1 scale, its ideal office space. Work was curated inside the filecabinets, on top of the desk, and inside desk drawers all of which were inside a hatched office space. The exhibition encouraged interaction and curiosity, and even hosted a number of impromptu office meetings (see photo above).