September 17, 2021

Cover the Grid

Outpost Office Exhibition for Chicago Architecture Biennial opens in North Lawndale

The first of Outpost Office’s “Cover the Grid” architectural-scale paintings officially opens September 17 as part of the Chicago Architecture Biennial. Outpost Office (Knowlton Architecture's Ashley Bigham and Erik Herrmann) designed the paintings to transform vacant landscapes into temporary civic gathering spaces. These paintings are produced by GPS-guided robots that typically paint sports fields. The project aims to explore how architecture might be simultaneously impactful and inexpensive, temporal, and open-ended.

From the “Cover the Grid” description

“Cover the Grid” is a series of architectural-scale urban land paintings produced with GPS-guided robots in the neighborhoods of North Lawndale and Pilsen. The typical application for these semi-autonomous robots is the painting of sports fields. “Cover the Grid” uses this temporary space-making technique to prototype and envision futures for underutilized and underserved locations on Chicago’s West Side. Each urban painting engages civic boundaries, public rights-of-way, the Chicago grid, and existing neighborhood infrastructure. “Cover the Grid” produces a dynamic, temporary civic space with no associated material waste or demolition costs. The project is expansive, not expensive. “Cover the Grid”’s semi-autonomous robots ensure the project eschews the waste consequences often associated with temporary architecture. It is a temporal installation that disappears with only sun, wind, and rain.

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