Oak Park, Illinois, 2023
Idea - Design
Side Yard, a collaborative effort between i/thee and Compound Yellow, represents the culmination of a year-long community design effort to propose a public outdoor gallery and performance space in Oak Park, Illinois. The plan introduces a series of dynamic wooden grid elements that graft on and grow out of the existing infrastructure, forming adaptable spaces for impromptu activation. These lattices are then clad with acrylic sheets melted onto the wooden framework. As light permeates through the gently contoured plastic, it casts a captivating array of swelling shadows and reflections, enveloping the house and gardens in an immersive atmosphere reminiscent of being submerged underwater.
Specifically tailored for hosting Compound Yellow's Side Yard Sound series, which showcases an eclectic array of musical artists exploring a spectrum ranging from experimentalism to avant-garde and forward-reaching jazz, this design embraces a plan devoid of rigid hierarchy. Unlike conventional performance spaces characterized by a uniform stage-and-seating layout, the Side Yard opts for multiple elevated platforms that can effortlessly transition between stages and seating, adapting to the unique requirements of each artist. Here, the design acts as a kind of portal or membrane—granting intimacy and enclosure for performances while remaining porous enough to welcome passersby.
This innovative approach marries privacy with openness, encapsulating a harmonious balance. The Side Yard's dual role as both a performance space and a welcoming thoroughfare reinforces its inclusivity, creating a space that resonates with a diverse range of artists and audiences. In essence, the Side Yard design proposal emerges as a testament to thoughtful community engagement, poised to transform into a dynamic epicenter of creative expression in Oak Park, Illinois.