Raising the RND House at The Commons

On Saturday, July 13, the Sweet Water community once-again partnered with Trillium Dell, masters of timber craft and frame construction, to hand raise a timber frame pavilion at The Commons.  The new structure, known as the RND House, was commissioned as part of the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial (Biennial). Sweet Water Foundation is a Contributor to the Biennial, which opens September 19, 2019 at the Chicago Cultural Center.  Read on to learn more.


On July 13, more than two dozen people, including the SWF core team, local residents, fellows, apprentices, and humans-in-residents, participated in an historic event to collectively construct the RND House.  The RND House is a modular, timber frame pavilion that will be the central element of Sweet Water Foundation’s contribution to the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial and the latest demonstration of the practice of Regenerative Neighborhood Development at The Commons.  

The RND House borrows from the architectural language of the Perry Ave Commons. Designed in collaboration with Trillium Dell, the structure is inspired by the framing and construction method of Chicago’s worker cottages -- once the dominant housing typology and the first standardized affordable housing in the city. 

From July 13 until August 26, the RND House will be activated by Sweet Water Foundation at The Commons bringing life, community, and a safe and peaceful space to vacant city and privately-owned land maintained by SWF at the corner of 57th Place and Lafayette Street.  The RND House has already hosted daily reflections for SWF’s Urban Ecology Apprenticeship Program, an offsite staff retreat for the Smart Museum of Art, workshops with The Black School, and shade and play space for local families. 

In late August, the SWF and Trillium Dell teams will deconstruct, transport, and reconstruct the RND House in the Chicago Cultural Center in downtown Chicago where it will be on exhibit for the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial. The installation entitled, Re-rooting + Redux, will transform this worker cottage structure into a gallery space with an installation reflecting the past, present, and future of the South Side, examining the evolution and devolution of land use, architectural structures, and housing from the Reconstruction Era to the Great Migration and urban renewal through the present day. In light of this history, the practices and projects fostered by the Sweet Water Foundation make possible new forms of live-work and collaborative economies that bring new life and re-root community in place.   

The RND House and Re-rooting + Redux installation will be viewed by more than 500,000 local, national, and international Biennial visitors from September 19 through January 5, 2020.  Sweet Water Foundation is honored to be a Contributor to the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial and excited for the opportunity to share its practice of Regenerative Neighborhood Development with an international audience.  There GROWS the neighborhood!

Courtney Hug