The Chicago Architecture Biennial Lakefront Kiosk Competitions prerequisites are as ambitious as irreconcilable. If, on one hand, a structure efficient, flexible and solid is required in order to carry its commercial functions; on the other, its desire to build a monument for the city is necessary. 24Kiosk tries to fulfil all parameters without seeking any selfish or hedonistic detachment from the context. 24Kiosk fits into a series of preexisting kiosks, avoiding the degradation of their essential nature but exalting it as a fundamental value. 24Kiosk is externally coated with 24-carat gold leafs. This gesture, absolute and irreversible, gives monumentality to a familiar architecture. 24Kiosk is a small building that consciously recalls the image of the surrounding artifacts; its shape has been optimized through the use of the golden ratio in the design of all its parts.
Alois Riegl, in 1899, trying to define the real essence of modern monumentality, used the German term “Stimmung”: the feeling people get when they ‘feel at ease’ with a building in which they recognize the monumental character without understanding exactly why. A true tune that certainly does not imply an extreme gesture, instead, evokes a harmony with its user and its context. In order to avoid another ‘rambling gesture’ in an architectural panorama constantly searching for self-affirmation, 24Kiosk is an essential operation against striking design proposals, as ephemeral as aesthetically transitory. An immanent sign to contain the liar winks of temporality.
The kiosk is a small, prefabricated structure, suitable for multiple uses. If locked, it is still able to attract visitors and tourists, becoming a recognizable urban object that can be easily dismantled and relocated in various areas of the city. It knows how to relate to the massive urban context of downtown and to the Lake Michigan landscape with its sticky hot summers and cold snowy winters. An ‘overdose’ of monumentality, we believe, is the only way to ‘protect’ such a humble and small artifact that offers the sharpness of typical ‘urban facts’: attractors of desires and catalysts of processes. Only an ‘exaggerated monumentality’ can, absolutely, solve the riddle. Only an ‘exaggerated monumentality’ gives, faithfully to the expectation, the ‘urban relevance’ needed. A golden bar lying on the sand is able to draw interest and jealousy, providing a pretext to talk about, ensuring a spectacle beyond the function hosted.
24Kiosk subverts the logic of building as a mere financial speculation: where the intrinsic value of the object is equal to its value in use and where, once the ‘gamble’ has been paid off, the building loses its meaning, becoming simply an obstacle to the next economic transaction.
Through an investment that will last over time, given the fact that gold does not depreciate, the kiosk retains its intrinsic value by increasing its extrinsic: ensuring a lifecycle potentially unlimited. Architecture is the antithesis of real-estate. Architecture is an economic surplus that prevents to demolish a building once it ceases to accommodate the function for which it was made.
Architecture itself is sustainable because able to host life and time passing, while remaining identical to itself. Architecture becomes a monument: the only way to survive fashions, crises and abandonment. When close 24Kiosk is a ‘nugget’, inacessible and pure. Once open on its short sides it shows a inner soft surface and it’s capacity to
accomodate several functions. The design focuses on the purity of shapes, a ‘gold nugget’ can’t be anything else.
The task of adapting to various uses is left to movable wooden ramps and footboards that colonizes the surrounding of the kiosk, quickly transforming it in a theatre stage, a blue tunnel, a bar with outdoor seating, etc. On a foundation, composed by steel beams, the wooden structure with metal joints is mounted. The whole surface of the kiosk is then coated with thermal insulation in order to extend the active use of 24Kiosk even to winter time and to reduce inner temperatures during summer.