Shamianaa place to grow, a space to gathertext that reads "a place to grow, a space to gather"

Shamiana is an immersive, multi-sensory public art installation and community gathering space in Chicago’s South Asian hub on Devon Avenue.

Shamiana includes a canopy inspired by the banyan tree, an interactive garden including petal-shaped planters with seating, and an immersive soundscape influenced by our environment.

Shamiana launched in September 2023 as part of the Chicago Architecture Biennial. The building of Shamiana will be complete in early 2024, including our tree, canopy, and soundscape. In the spring we will begin planting our garden of mustard, mint, lemongrass, tulsi, marigolds, and more.

SpaceShift Collective will host a series of programs that offer opportunities for exploration, learning, connecting, and play. We welcome community to activate and contribute to Shamiana freely.

What inspired us?

Shamiana was first conceived as a conceptual canopy, bringing people together through immersive public art. Our structural inspiration came from the banyan tree and its use throughout South Asia as a communal and natural third space.

This vision expanded to include a garden with plants relevant to the South Asian diaspora, and a soundscape that reflects the environment. Our inspiration from the natural environment continued in the petal-shaped planters for the garden, which also serve as additional seating.

Based on our previous work on Devon, we envision Shamiana as an accessible public space to sit, rest, commune, and share ideas. We see Shamiana spanning the intersection of Devon and Artesian avenues as connecting points or portals to each other and to other neighborhoods, places and times.

How did we get here?

In 2021, SpaceShift Collective launched Aao Mil Baithen with a series of street level activations and events on Devon. We continued in 2022 by publishing A Day on Devon, a community-sourced zine dedicated to the street we know and love. Later that year, we launched starlight – a temporary community art space and exhibition focused on race, caste, and colorism.  starlight featured 6 Chicago-based resident artists, hosted 38 programs, and welcomed over 1,000 people in just 6 weeks!
Shamiana, an extension of SpaceShift Collective’s Aao Mil Baithen project, serves as a place for gathering and growth, continuing our placemaking in the neighborhood. SpaceShift Collective was invited by Floating Museum to participate in the Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB). Conceived and designed by SpaceShift Collective with support from Good City Group, Shamiana is an official site for
CAB5: This is a Rehearsal.
Image of a crowd of people gathered for an Aao Mil event on a street corner on Devon Avenue.

Why Devon?

Devon is a vital urban enclave that serves as a place of connection for many immigrants, refugees, and diasporic communities to their ethnic and cultural roots. In the past 50 years, it has evolved into Chicago’s South Asian cultural hub.

However, unlike other cultural districts in Chicago, there are limited transaction-free community gathering spaces and very few arts and creative spaces in the area. Through Shamiana, SpaceShift explores what a culturally-relevant, community gathering space could look like on Devon. 

Help Us Build Shamiana

Your contribution will help us build this community hub on Devon!
Four people seated around a wooden table working on weaving small baskets

Volunteer with Us!

We can use your help with installation, planting, outreach, programs, and more!
Count me in!
An image of 6 SpaceShift team members standing in front of the Nepal House restaurant on Devon.

Shamiana Team

Amirah Sackett
Asad Ali Jafri
Kushala Vora
Odile Compagnon
Osman Khan
Megha Ralapati
Melissa Munira Jafri
Nilay Mistry
Tulika Ladsariya
Yahya Youssef
Shamiana is supported by the Chicago Architecture Biennial, Driehaus Foundation, Rogers Park Business Alliance - Devon Ave SSA #43, Artists Run Chicago Fund + Art Design Chicago Grant, R David Coolidge, and Nabeela Rasheed.