Grounds For Detroit
- Architecture & Design
- Visual Arts
Grounds For Detroit is an installation and exhibition representing a Detroit single-family house that hosts five experimental architecture installations within it. The overall project will be produced for the 2012 Biennale di Venezia (the 13th International Architecture Exhibition) and will house a curated show of pieces by more than 10 artists, architects and writers currently working in and on Detroit.
The Scene: From Frontyard to Backyard and This House is Not a Home
As visitors enter into the exhibition room, they will step into the space between house and garage—the backyard of 13178 Moran Street—essentially entering the new civic realm transported from a Detroit neighborhood. The plan of the lot, including house, backyard and garage, is drawn directly on the floor, revealing its prior condition as a domestic space with an intact kitchen, bathroom, dining room and bedrooms. Upon this sits a lightweight metal frame with a partial covering of translucent fabric that defines the full-scale house and garage volumes and partially exposes five architectural installations within.
The plan represents the past, where the installations suggest the possible architectural futures that Detroit’s abandoned houses can support.
The Message: In Detroit, the Past is Not a Model for the Future
Already, the creative repurposing of vacant houses and open lots as sites of architectural experimentation uses the material of Detroit—its excess building stock and accumulated open space—to project new programs for old forms.
13178 Moran Street is a collaborative reconstruction of a project in a single-family house in Detroit. Released from the programmatic exigencies of the single-family house, former domestic spaces make possible new spatial projections: a kitchen is transformed into a mobile threshold, a bedroom into a hermetic multi-sensory chamber, the drawing room becomes a theater unto the outside, the dining room a stepped interior topography, and a detached garage is altered into an atmospheric observatory. These constructions are a few examples of what is possible in the new Detroit.
13178 Moran Street imports a distinct urban space from Detroit—the mid-block of a residential neighborhood, where boundaries between alleys and backyards have dissolved and are being occupied for parties, gardening, gathering and play. The iconic American house is no longer the edifying symbol of the individual. The image of the front stoop has been replaced by the very real, ad hoc occupation of the shared back alley. As the urban form shifts from figure to ground, this space has emerged as a “commons” for the new Detroit.
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