The Moat and The Maze

The Moat and the Maze, 2018
Honorable Mention | 2018 Chicago Prize

Wards are the de facto local governing system in Chicago. Zoning policies, as well as public services and facilities such as libraries, police stations, post offices, schools, and parks, are governed at the level of the ward.

So what happens if a neighborhood finds itself constantly changing wards?

The objective of this proposal is to manifest the effects of gerrymandering through the continuous redistricting of wards, and to demonstrate the social consequences of such actions. More specifically, the project interprets the research by Professor Robert Vargas at the University of Chicago of two neighborhoods – Beverly and Little Village – and their ward affiliations over time. Vargas maintains that these invisible lines, when frequently moved around, have profound impacts on violence and crime in a neighborhood by effectively cutting off communities from each other and their access to public services and amenities.

The proposal produces these lines in physical form, amplifying and making clear their impact on a community, both as moats and as mazes. In the case of suburban Beverly, the physical boundaries provide an extended barrier, a sort of moat, that creates a stable and definitive distinction that isolates itself from its neighbors. In urban Little Village, these boundaries create a maze, a zone of chaos and congestion that fractures a community into smaller, incoherent pieces.
The project attempts to materialize ward lines for what they are: methods of fortification or disruption that despite their invisible nature, have tremendous social and physical impacts among a neighborhood and its community members.

Boundaries of Ward 19 (The Moat)

Boundaries of Ward 22 (The Maze)


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