Urbs in horto

This work is devoted to conditions found along edges and liminal boundaries where utilitarian spaces press against private confines.

Image 3: Untitled, Detroit, 2016
Image 1: Untitled, Chicago, 2016
Image 5: Untitled, Detroit, 2016
Image 2: Untitled, Chicago, 2016

There is no evident reason why Chicago chose as its motto, Urbs in Horto, or City in a Garden. In 1837, the year Chicago was incorporated, many parcels of city land had been cleared to grow food for the burgeoning population. The Latin phrase may also allude to the verdant tallgrass prairie, woodlands, and great lake that surrounded the young metropolis. Whatever the origin, the descriptive motto still applies. Suitable conditions can be found throughout Chicago and elsewhere in the Midwest, such as Detroit, Michigan’s overgrown alleyways and Gary, Indiana’s sandy moraines.

Urbs in Horto is devoted to conditions found along edges–liminal boundaries where utilitarian spaces press against private confines. Hastily constructed and improvised structures found in these settings are most compelling. Barriers such as fences, trellis, and planters are meant to serve practical, sometimes makeshift functions, yet they exceed their intended use to become elegant (or interestingly inelegant) forms. Within these marginal relationships, lush growth–both cultivated and invasive–runs wild. 

The project incorporates in-situ documentation, computer-aided 3D design, and constructions of found materials–a ranging approach that intentionally blurs boundaries. Intimate space invades public territory, while artifice and reality share common ground. The work is as much a record as it is a fabrication. It reflects the topography’s complex history and my own hand in effecting change.