Nunnmps by Cheungvogl



Hong Kong architects Cheungvogl have designed a research studio on stilts for Chicago, Illinois


The studio will be elevated to preserve secrecy for the research carried out, while a reception area and administration office will be below ground level, overlooking the lake.


Located on the outskirts of the city on the edge of Lake Michigan, the project includes a public space surrounding the 50,000 square metre building.


More about Cheungvogl on Dezeen: Two Houses in Tokyo. 


Here's some more information from Cheungvogl:


Nunnmps, Chicago, Illinois

From the days when we first visited the campus site in Chicago, sitting in the grass, discussing the concept for the Nunnmps project, our connection with the site developed. These are the moments we preserved in our minds.


Nunnmps is located on the outskirts of Chicago bordering Lake Michigan; close enough to the city center, in an undeveloped site with stunning views across the distant skyline. The design development grew as naturally as the terrain overtook the site in the absence of human inhabitation over the years. Through uninterrupted silence, the site is covered with layers of shimmering grass and matured trees. We want to retain and capture the natural quality of silence.


The Client's brief was summed up in a hand scribbled facsimile stating:  '...develop the site to maximize its potential ... providing privacy for the design studio is crucial - and the rest, see what the lack of brief takes you! ...'.


This became our starting point to experiment every possibility within the constraints of its intricate building regulations. Uncommon for a commercial development, the project contributes to its community on a multi-faceted level. It redefines the notion of 'work and place', 'city and landscape' and integrated culture and community.


The ambiguous threshold between 'work' and 'place' is idealized by its location within the city. The design consists of a 50,000 square meter design and research studio in addition to surrounding public open space and nature. One third of the building encompasses the design and research studios and support areas.


Since the studio projects are of a strategic nature and highly confidential, the building is lifted above ground, high above the crowns of trees, floating like clouds, overlooking the distant skyline. The remaining two thirds of the office space exist within its sub terrain. It accommodates a reception area and a large open administration office with mushroom-like cores penetrating the ground to connect both parts of the Nunnmps.


'The moment one gives close attention to any thing, even a blade of grass it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.'  Henry Miller project diaries Nunnmps, August 2009


The architects

Cheungvogl is a young international architectural practice founded in 2008. The design studio is based in Hong Kong and led by Chinese-Canadian architect Judy Cheung and German architect Christoph Vogl.

Posted on Tuesday September 1st 2009 at 2:15 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • ste

    very conceptual and interesting project… for sure an outstanding design result within all commercial development boundries! and by far the best grafics in architecture for a long time! i like the way cheungvogl draws their ideas! lets space for imagination while transport all necessary informations!

  • modular

    Wicked…. a giant-chinese-dragon.

  • No… they… didn’t!!!!

  • yes, great mood images. love the one with the jogger where only the shadows cast on the top of the poles give you a hint that there is something above the edge of the image. – de chirico?

  • gaque

    this project looks made up..

  • s mart

    the public space is fantastic – the presentation includes more the public than the user, which is great, as most people will experience the project like that.
    knowing the situation in chicago, this might be material for public presentation/hearing – very succecful and surely a contribution to the community.

  • Ok, how does being perched up high make it unknown what you are working on? Compared with being in a building where people can’t see in, there are many interesting ways to accomplish that. This structure will cause more curiosity than secrecy. How would one get things up to this perched lab? Through the wider of the thin shafts? They look as though a elevator may go inside them but barely fit 2 people… I live in chicago and am very interested to know where this is because it puzzles me, maybe the old mig’s field area? I doubt it though, because the shoreline looks different there and there are almost no other spots that it could be within the city limits. This project is full of holes and weak on concept in its given location.

  • Teddy

    Why is a woman standing in her slip on the patio of a research building? Those non-sequiturs bother me. That said, the runner under the columns is a pretty sweet shot–very smart.

  • yaulee

    I suppose in the world today, it is not too convincing to say that the justification for lifting the bldg above ground is to guarantee confidentiality, ‘floating like clouds, overlooking the distant skyline….mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world ‘ is apparently more important for the designers

  • hayden

    Isn’t everything made up ?

  • Very interesting project … i’d like to see some more pictures from inside “the chinese dragon” :-)

  • zandie

    pretty cool, hope giant-chinese-dragon will withstand chicago winds

  • Ramos

    In fact, I heard Cheungvogl lecturing some time ago. They presented a whole stack of diagrams and documentation on the process – very impressive. They didn’t show this imagery at that point, but the reason for the project’s beauty is a very throught-through design process…. I was researching on this project to find some more images, and i am happy to see it published in this beautiful way! A very different, very outstanding design in every way.

    p.s. I think it is around Chicago Skyway.

  • Christy

    i love the fact that a commercial building is lift up to create space for public. it might be a way to get the approval, but what matters is, that it is an spectacular building, creating a fantasic public space.
    a ‘land’mark!

  • when people find a nickname for your design, you have already won…
    yes, i like this ‘chinese dragon’ a lot. straight forward idea, straight foward concept, beautifully presented.
    also, conratulations to the client!

  • Very strong images!

  • tmac

    how does one get up to the upper level? i didn’t see any specifics and i presume that this was intentional since a fat elevator tube would kill the elegance of the thin stilts. i’m interested to see how they dealt with this…other than that i think its a great concept.

  • LOW

    Modernism, eat your heart out

  • Charles

    this design is revolution.

    a very sensitive revolution.

  • Jad

    this is the coolest design i have seen in a long time!

    seems to be light like a kite above the fields – beautiful!

  • Veron

    It is a beautiful design.
    I also like the multi-national bachground of the project: Chinese, Canadian, German, Hong Kong, Chicago…..

    a German architect, influenced by the art and culture of asia, designing in Chicago… sounds familiar, and gives me a good feeling :) a beautiful dedication to Chicago!

  • takamashi

    Brilliant work ! love it.

  • brutek

    Ok, let’s get this straight for the uninformed:

    The reference to Chicago as the “Windy City” was a coined phrase to describe the politicians in Chicago who are “braggarts”, thus generating “wind” over substance. See“Windy_City”

    “Chicago is not noted to be significantly windier than any other U.S. city.”

    Now please spread the word because hearing foreigners talk about this is becoming as annoying as thinking everyone in Chicago owns a handgun like Al Capone!

  • Keith

    agree with brutek. windloads in chicago are not higherthan in ny or la.
    some self-declared critics though create ‘wind over substance’…

    an unique design (dont see problems with windload, as it seems to be much rather aerodynamic shaped anyway), very poetic language of concept and presentation.

    love it!

  • arash dailami

    it’s lovely and beautiful.
    although i think that your columns can have more organic (actually i means curve) forms according to your nice curves of the top part.

  • Majestic

    strong concept + strong images/atmosphere = strong!

  • yrag

    Pretty amazing.

    I have to congratulate Cheungvogl on the absolute originality of his/her solution.

    I’m eager to see the completed work.

  • Walter Simmons

    Amazing design, creating an amazing surrounding. A rare and unique concept – more though seen in the context of contemporary architecture. It is outstanding, and i m happy to see it in Chicago!

  • Walter Simmons

    p.s. ich liebe es! :)

  • Jean D Arc

    this MUST be build! great design!

  • Lia

    great solution on good design…
    -I like it-

    but,, how about the construction..?? May i know..??

    It’s New technology… there is impossible can be possible.. ;)

  • Arden

    a beautiful design

  • Vivian

    i like the landscape part and i enjoy the atmosphere they created….
    but on the other hand, i think the structure of the building is inhuman in a way…
    n’ the people shown in the rendering don’t imply any meaning to the drawing…what a pity!

  • Cordelia Kristofferson

    This is a very refreshing design, and I am happy to see young architects from Asia succesfully contributing to North Americas architectural landscape (thinking of MAD or Mass Studies, as well).
    Considering the helpless attempt of many designs to revolutionize commercial/office architecture, i see this elegant and gracefull project as cutting-edge design, with the potential to initiate reconsideration of the integration of commercial developments into the community/city.

    Regarding to above’s comment: I think it is a beautiful structure with alliterations to tress and clouds, creating an immense openess to the site. This openess continues in beautiful open office layout, again, continuing into the wide openess of Lake Michigan.

    I am happy to see such beautiful, young design language kicking of re-thinking of old ideas, waiting to overcome.

    I agree: a beautiful design!

  • Moonchild

    This design is not only outstanding, because it is beautiful and elegant.
    It is also outstanding, because it defines commercial development in a way, not seen before.

    I agree: a beautiful design!

  • Etienne

    they have more images on their website (specially from inside the ‘chinese dragon’).
    this must be one of the most outstanding designs, i have ever seen!

  • p. j.

    fresh concept – looks like clouds floating above trees and fields. (concept diagrams at the end are simple and great)
    very cool!!!

  • crowd


  • Mino

    was googeling for this project – saw the beautiful images on concept magazine. congrats to the architects!
    very great concept!

  • hi!, can any one please tell me what program was use in order to create these images? thanks….