A high uniformity box furnace has been delivered to Soil Lab, a collaborative community-improvement project in Chicago, as part of the 2021 Chicago Architecture Biennial. The furnace manufactured by L&L Special Furnace Co. Inc. was fast-tracked and delivered in four weeks to be able to be part of the biennial architectural program. The front-loading, refractory-lined furnace has a horizontal double-pivot door with a safety power cutoff switch.

The Soil Lab project has two main objectives: making structures out of bricks, rammed earth and ceramic tiles; and the construction of spaces for communal gathering. Local community groups in and around Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood are expected to experiment and gain knowledge of ceramic production and various processes using the furnace.

The furnace includes a ceramic hearth and standoffs that will serve as a workspace for various ceramics and ceramic-based products. The furnace has a series of inlets on the side and an outlet on the top. These can be capped off when not in use to preserve heat, and they can provide a “candling” effect where various ceramic byproducts can be removed from the furnace. Some of these byproducts can be corrosive and need to be removed from the system.