the imagination station
Location Chicago IL
Collaborators Men Making A Difference, Open Books, Made in Englewood, C&B Welders
The Imagination Station is a pavilion for multiple forms of literacy: academic, artistic, cultural, and architectural. Supporting the organizations of Men Making a Difference and Open Books / North Lawndale Reads, the structure offers space for children and adults to engage with small-scale multi-media libraries, including fiction and non-fiction, comics, study materials, hair accessories, art materials, and more. The design was developed through a series of workshops with neighborhood children, who were especially creative in how they defined literacy—when asked which books were their favorite, they responded with names of characters like Arthur, Caillou, and Elmo. We realized that their primary engagement was with figures rather than narratives, which changed the way we conceived of the “library” they would eventually use.
An custom steel frame allows for different materials to infill the facade, creating layers of transparency and visibility. Children can participate in the making process by applying adhesive images of their favorite book and TV characters to acrylic panels that hang along the back of the structure. The structural assembly relies on exposed nuts and bolts, allowing community members with varying levels of construction experience to join in the building process. While meeting the cultural parameters of the sukkah, the Imagination Station also offers a long-term space for gathering and learning in North Lawndale.
Photographs by Brian Griffin, Zachary Keltner, and Aneesha Dharwadker