DETROIT Living Labs 2015/2016:
Experimental Public Space Installations as Events of Urban Reinvigoration

We worked with the community leader called Detroit Future City. There was be a presentation on the current condition of Detroit on week 2 by key organizer of DFC. In a general manner, the community leader, Detroit Future City has identified 5 priority areas for their city:
1. Strategies for economic growth
2. Land speculation
3. Urban systems
4. Neighbourhoods
5. Available vacant land and buildings
6. Civic engagement
These priority areas will constitute the backdrop of the experimentations for this studio.

This plan includes establishing the city as a leader in innovative open space land uses that provide employment opportunities, blue and green infrastructure that will help to clean our air and water, and greater recreational spaces. The main goal for neighbourhood place-making is to create an environment that contains access to amenities for invigorating social encounters, for public resting areas, for recreation and relaxation, such as pocket parks, urban agriculture, projections on abandoned wall and buildings, reuse of abandoned spaces and urban furniture, innovative urban lighting options, redesign of abandoned spaces, rest areas, etc. – in the form of public space installations, specifically as events for urban reinvigoration. These should all be with the intention of neighborhood renewal and for transforming areas into open recreational and/or urban agricultural spaces, by answering the question: How can this public site become a magnet for the people of Detroit?

In this approach, the design process rests on an oscillation between research and experimentation through CONSIDERABLE making to help you develop your own proactive design – creating your strong proposition – while allowing you to conceptualize a very different portfolio project. 

This studio is intended as an original pedagogical environment that allows you to explore contemporary questions and issues, at once social, cultural, theoretical, political and environmental. This studio is founded on an analogical thinking approach as a vehicle for exploring new ideas and is intended to deepen your research and reflective approach to the design project.

The competition, The Architectural Imagination will be used.  Students will select one of four sites: 
(1) Dequindre Cut from Detroit’s Eastern Market;
(2) Mexicantown in West Vernor,
(3) US Post Office on West Fort Street,
(4) Packard Plant on East Grand Blvd. 

Information of these sites can be found at

By exploring the typology of public urban installations, you are invited to define the theme of your public space by testing a series of hypotheses in sites proposed by the Architectural Imagination competition.

Detroit Future City ( envisions their urban reinvigoration plan taking place within a period of 50 years. Among these initiatives, DFC has recently integrated a report from the international platform of knowledge sharing: Meeting of the Minds (MotM), based in San Francisco. Entitled “Spotlighting Innovations in Urban Sustainability and Connected Technology“, this report does not hesitate to consider the urban situation, still very difficult and critical in Detroit as THE laboratory of the most advanced research  on urbanized societies, that actually characterise the world in the next 50 years.

In this project we will look at vacant public spaces as infrastructure for recreation, for communication, for living, for commerce, etc. Using approaches that can be focused on durability (long-living installations), ephemerality (short-lived events), compositions of forms (seating, walking, facades, interfaces, etc), and compositions of relations (social programs, social gatherings, social projects, etc).  So the site and its very specific typology will influence how it is problematized and reimagined.

The objective of this exercise is to elaborate on a public space installation scenario . Build a scaled model that clearly translates the ‘constructive expression’ of the form/materials/space/light of proposal. Final presentations will be done at Detroit Future City in Detroit in mid April, 2015​

Critique at Detroit Future City

Visiting the Sites