You can’t spell “architecture” without “art”, and the two crossover a lot more than you’d think. After all, visions of what our future cities might look like have to come from a creative mind.

The Chicago Architecture Biennial knows this and wants to know what the city of tomorrow will look like today. So we teamed up with them for our Architecture Challenge and have found a winner.

Koivo uses the ‘futurism’ style to create futuristic visions of modern day cities. Our urban jungles are getting more and more futuristic, and Koivo’s “retro-futurism” illustrates that (no pun intended).

We talked to Koivo about their winning design, “City“, worldly travels, and thoughts on whether the Leaning Tower of Pisa is art or a menace.

(Koivo’s Instagram)

You’re kind of a mystery! Tell me about yourself.

So I was born in 1882, I am a person of non-definite gender. I have no home, I am a wanderer and free artist. Several months ago, I left my job in a luxury-department store in Saint-Petersburg. Spent almost a year living the hermit life in a former Russian Tzar’s residence park location.

Today I live in a former church building in Vienna, being part of a barrier-free community. On Thursday I go to Sarajevo to explore hidden depths of this cross cultural old city and learn the Bosnian language.

(Courtesy of Koivo’s Instagram and site)

Wow, you lead an amazing life. What places most inspire you? 

Old European cities and gothic architecture inspire me greatly. Luckily, I now have the opportunity to travel a lot. The latest city which impressed me was Zagreb, capital of Croatia.

What inspired your winning design? Is there a story behind it?

In this very design, I had no initial idea, I just wanted to experiment with shapes. So it kind of grew before my eyes. I often use this intuitive approach for my work, especially when it’s not for commercial commission but a self-project.

(Courtesy of Koivo’s Instagram and site)

What got you started in the futurism style?

I started this style when I got more acquainted with modernist art of the first half of the 20th century, its avant-garde movements. So my futurism is closer to futurism like it was seen 100 years ago…like retro-futurism.

Leaning Tower of Pisa – art or menace?

For me it’s pure menace, ’cause I prefer 90 degree angles.


Do you consider architecture an art?

Sure – it’s especially important when real art surrounds us elsewhere, not just in art galleries.

Do you have any favorite Chicago-based architecture? Not that we’re biased…

I really like these plain rectangular skyscrapers, they remind me of America of the 1930s, Dreiser or Thomas Wolfe books, which I enjoyed reading while I studied English and the American Literature at University.

(Courtesy of Koivo’s site)

Have you always dabbled in the artistic architectural style?  How did your style evolve?

It really took several years and much effort to evolve. I always loved to draw buildings more than people or anything else. I remember when I was nine, I won first prize at my art school for the fantasy city drawing. Maybe at that time my career started. But when I started traveling more and more, I got much inspiration, so the style evolved.

City” by Koivo

What would your ideal city look like? 

It would be harmonious and clean. It would combine gothic elements with functionality. It would be eco-friendly. And there would for sure be a lot of trams.

(Courtesy of Koivo’s Instagram)

Futuristic city, city from the past, or modern city?

I prefer any kind of harmony where modern and historic elements are interwoven without eye-disturbing. In this sense, I love how Berlin looks. Sarajevo is also a very interesting city from architectural point of view. I am inspired by gothic elements as well as modernist architecture from interwar period.

What’s your favorite fictional city?

I love architectural fantasies from the Michael Ende book, The NeverEnding Story.


Avatar photo
Carlyn Hill

Dad joke aficionado, cartoonist, & contributor for sites like HelloGiggles and The Mary Sue by night. When I'm not writing or drawing, you can find me in my cave of a room hanging out with my boyfriend, Netflix.