Garden in the Machine

Working with a team of experts on subjects from finance to environmental remediation, Studio Gang developed Garden in the Machine as a proposal to revitalize the inner-ring suburb of Cicero, Illinois.

Cicero, a former factory town, has struggled with the foreclosure of industrial properties and homes. As a result, its largely immigrant population continues to deal with conditions of unemployment, poverty, and environmental degradation.

Garden in the Machine demonstrates how the remains of Cicero’s industry—its lands, building materials, and rail infrastructure—can be reimagined as healthy, thriving neighborhoods that best suit the needs of residents. Combining technology and natural processes to improve the land, Garden in the Machine blends housing and jobs within new, flexible live-and-work structures interwoven with public green spaces. The project also proposes updated zoning regulations and a flexible, alternative form of ownership, empowering residents of Cicero to pursue their own uniquely 21st-century American dreams of health, fulfillment, and prosperity.

The new, vertical neighborhood employs concrete cores as the primary vertical structure, which contain utilities and circulation. Reclaimed trusses spanning from core to core form a network of shared community spaces. Private live-and-work units are mounted above and below the trusses and can be expanded or contracted as families change.

Cicero’s rigid zoning code is reimagined in order to unite living and working, public and private, allowing for opportunities such as starting a business at home.

Video by Spirit of Space

Residents enjoy access to a variety of gardens and outdoor spaces, including terraces, courtyards, plazas, markets, outdoor workshops, and allotment gardens.