Award-winning international architects Zaha Hadid and Ben van Berkel recently unveiled their designs for two eco-pavilions that will be the centerpieces of Burnham Plan Centennial celebrations this summer in Chicago. Both pavilions emphasize the importance of boldly imagining a better future for all, as Daniel Burnham and Edward Bennett did in 1909 in their Plan of Chicago. So how can something that is disposable and temporary really be sustainable? Inhabitat wondered the same thing. So we called the organizers and they were more than happy to explain.

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Hadid’s curvilinear pavilion will be constructed out of fabric stretched over an aluminum frame. The tent-like form has been designed to be collapsable and easily re-installed. The goal is that after its debut in Chicago, the Hadid pavilion will travel to other locations such as a university or maybe even the Olympic Games in London. We’re not sure who will have to cover the carbon cost of the Hadid pavilion’s globe-trotting but that might be nitpicking!

As for Van Berkel’s design, it is crafted out of a variety of materials including steel and wood. Again, while the materials themselves may not be of sustainable provenance, the structure is designed to be deconstructed and recycled. According to construction partners Third Coast Construction and the Creative Collective, the materials from van Berkel’s pavilion will go to the Reuse People.

The organizers are working hard to ensure that the materials will survive as part of a public art project. When they start installing the pavilions this summer, over 3000 sf of screening fabric will go up around the site. This fabric will be recycled instead of being discarded, going on to become reusable tote bags for the citizens of Chicago. Although each architect’s use of “recyclable” but not recycled material could have been greener, we certainly approve of the thought and future-forward planning that is going into each pavilion.

+ Burnham Plan Centennial