[MI]Narrative by bboss1
April.23.2009, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Competition

It is difficult to encompass the scope of our work in 500 words but I feel this narrative atleast touches on all the points we are arguing for. However, any suggestions are welcomed.


The scope of our project is twofold; it investigates the lifecycle of an elementary school and a city. As the brief states, “The problem of urban growth and decay is greater than the individual building.” Detroit is a collapsing city.

A ‘node’ in the global auto network.

In a network society, when and industry changes or suffers, all nodes of that network can begin to suffer regardless of scale. In the 20th century global economy, Detroit as the leading manufacturer of vehicles in America is now seeing astronomical economic decline resulting in the symptomatic decay of its urban core. The emerging “nervous system” of Detroit is one of poverty, violence, illness, and hunger. Our team is attacking the problem by educating the young and nourishing the community. Some planners and other public intellectuals have proposed the notion of urban farming as a means of rehabilitating decaying urban fabric. This is the concept of interjecting agricultural areas into the inner city. This idea allows local inhabitants to grow their own produce or even sell it for profit. Considering the chain of historical events that has lead to the development of Detroit, the concept of urban farming begins to paint a pretty clear picture of the life cycle that this city is experiencing.
In order for improvement to take place, a real change must be made in the way Detroit’s inhabitants live, work, and think. Our group is proposing a building that acts as an elementary school and a community development center. The school grounds contain:

1 An “eco-blot” which is used to cultivate natural produce and indigenous plant life. The “eco-blot” will be maintained by school staff and observed by students giving them an opportunity to witness and understand the lifecycle of plant ecology from the planting stage through harvesting. Outdoor learning and physical activity take place amid the context of plant ecology. This is one aspect of learning via multiple intelligences in which the students partake. It will also serve the larger community as a place to come and learn about ways to create and maintain their own urban farm. A new lifestyle then begins to emerge for the citizens of Detroit.

2 The building itself will be constructed as a weaved steel structure which occupies two previously abandoned buildings and is composed of customized steel members produced locally. The density of the weave is proportional to the load bearing on it in any given area. As the lifestyle catalyzed by our building begins to take hold of the greater community, our method of weaving structure through existing buildings in decay begins to spread across the city inhabiting old abandoned buildings in a parasitic manor, whereby creating a symbiotic effect between existing structure and urban growth. This will divert the destruction of many of Detroit’s abandoned buildings while at the same time stimulating the local steel industry and putting people back to work, thereby igniting the next phase in the lifecycle of Detroit.


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