- Architecture & Design
Like too many Detroit houses irreparably damaged by disuse, vandalism and fire, the house at 3347 Burnside must come down. Rather than raze it and leaving fallow land, we will deconstruct the house and reuse the foundation to build a semi subterranean passive geothermal greenhouse called AFTERHOUSE that will serve as a model prototype for other abandoned houses throughout Detroit and beyond. We have spent the last few month designing the project, developing a comprehensive construction plan, speaking to city officials and submitting for permit. Now we need a minimum of $12,000 to transform this project from concept to reality. As a prototype for the abandoned homes in Detroit we foresee donations receive beyond our minimum goal to be put towards the construction of other AFTERHOUSEs. A community garden partner and next-door neighbor, Burnside Farm, will take ownership of the greenhouse and provide fresh, local, affordable produce through the winter months. 3347 Burnside is the last fire-damaged house left on this dead end street. Building AFTERHOUSE now will be the last step to transform Burnside Street into a safe place to grow and celebrate food year round.
By taking advantage of the constant temperature of the earth, AFTERHOUSE requires no active heating in the winter or cooling in the summer to grow crops that grow in climates far more temperate than Detroit’s. Pomegranates, pistachios, mangos and citrus are just a few possible AFTERHOUSE crops. And by using materials from the house and in the vernacular of the neighborhood to integrate ideas culled from stories shared of the home’s history, AFTERHOUSE experiments with layering, light, transparency and heat. Distinct from many urban agriculture projects that require a lot of space, AFTERHOUSE is discrete, almost hidden, because it maintains the scale of the original house. This makes possible AFTERHOUSE in urban settings where larger scale hoop houses and greenhouses are not. AFTERHOUSE also makes use of an otherwise troublesome resource– the concrete foundation. A typical 1600 square-foot residence has nearly 70 tons of concrete in its foundation and in a typical demolition, all that material must be removed from the site. The process of removal is energy and labor intensive as the concrete is ground up and sent to a landfill. Reusing these structures in place represents a double or triple savings at no additional cost or energy.
The process for building AFTERHOUSE is quite simple. First the damaged parts of the house are removed while preserving the foundation. Then a stairwell is excavated down to the basement level. After that we build a simple shed-style greenhouse covering the existing basement foundation, rotating the slope to face due south and maximizing solar exposure. We then construct an insulated platform facing the street, maintaining the cultural and urban character of the original house porch while guarding against temperature fluctuations. Lastly we build a series of planters into the insulated platform to grow summer crops and shade the greenhouse from the summer heat.
$12,000 will pay for the demolition of the house, utility disconnections and permitting fees, building materials to construct the greenhouse such as lumber, polycarbonate, insulation, siding and roofing material, subcontracting fees for specialty trades such as electrical and plumbing, as well as plants and growing material. In the event of overfunding we plan on producing AFTERHOUSE construction kits for other community garden organizations with fire damaged structures.
Thank you for all your help in transforming a now derelict house from something that is a hazard to something that is beautiful and useful to a block integrating an urban farm and family homes. With your support AFTERHOUSE will draw from what once was to become a part of what Detroit is now.
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