Grounds for Detroit – In this collaborative project, a distinct urban space – the mid-block of residential neighborhood – has been imported to Venice from Detroit. The installation is a recreation – and re-imagining – of a project undertaken in a abandoned single-family house in Detroit 2010. In the original work, five architects collectively bought a property on Moran Street for $500 cash at a public auction. Each practice then contracted a distinct intervention within its formerly domestic spaces: a kitchen was transformed into a mobile threshold; a bedroom into a hermetic multi-sensory chamber; the dinning room a stepped interior topography; and the detached garage became a atmospheric observatory.
In this way, new futures were imagined for Detroit and for its excess stock of empty and abandoned houses. The project represents a model of contemporary practice where, out of necessity, architecture is nimble and expedient: it is cast more as a means that an end – a way of finding opportunity rather than solving problems. This technique resonates with the contemporary conditions of a city such as Detroit.
The installation uses the literal drawing of the plan on the gallery floor to represent the past – the original intended to uses of the domestic spaces. The five interventions reveal possible futures that the house could support: alternatives for both the inhabitation of the house and for architecture’s role in realizing those possibilities.
Within the space of the reconstructed house and its environs, and exhibition of recent works from Detroit is assembled.This includes videos pieces, audio recordings, photographs, drawings, and texts that represent the unique working conditions found in Detroit. Together the work highlights new approaches towards architectural practice, new models of collective action, and imaginative re-evaluations of the city’s discarded matter.
Description from Grounds for Detroit team: Grounds for Detroit is a collaborative installation by five young American practices working collectively: *Alibi Studio; Ellie Abrons with Adam Fure; MILLIGRAM-office; SCHAUM/SHIEH; and Thom Moran. The project is part of the 13th International Architecture Exhibition at the 2012 Biennale di Venezia, curated by David Chipperfield under the theme of Common Ground. In part, the installation revisits a collaborative project from 2010, where the five practices collectively bought the abandoned single-family house at 13178 Moran St. in Detroit, Michigan for $500 cash at public auction and constructed five distinct architectural interventions. The project is on view from August 29-November 25, 2012.
This House Is Not A Home. The plan of the lot at 13178 Moran Street, including the house, backyard and garage, is drawn directly on the gallery floor, revealing its prior condition as a domestic space with an intact kitchen, bathroom, dining room and bedrooms. A lightweight metal frame sits directly on the plan; with a partial covering of translucent fabric, the frame delineates the volumes of the house and partially exposes the five architectural installations designed and fabricated for this exhibition. The plan represents the past, where the installations suggest the possible architectural futures that Detroit’s abandoned houses can support.
Uncommon Practice. Collectively the group imported a single-family house and backyard into the Arsenale exhibition hall, within which each practice constructed a distinct project. As a model of contemporary practice, the project presents strategies of realization where, out of necessity, architecture is nimble, promiscuous and expedient. Compelled to negotiate the ever-changing circumstances presented by Detroit, the five practices operate as a loose collective—negotiating terms that allow for action in an unpredictable environment while maintaining room for individual sensibilities. Architecture is cast as a means rather than an ends—a means to finding opportunity rather than solving problems—a technique that resonates with the contemporary conditions of a city like Detroit.
Grounds For Detroit. Around the perimeter of the gallery, the project also includes a curated collection of recent work by twelve architects, artists, and writers working in and on Detroit. This includes videos, audio recordings, photographs, drawings, models and texts that present the unique working conditions that Detroit makes possible for architecture. Together, the work highlights new dispositions toward practice, new models of collectivity, novel imaginings for the city’s discarded matter, and propositions for community action.
About the architects: Ellie Abrons is a designer based in Ann Arbor, MI. SIFT is a collaborative design practice based in Ann Arbor MI led by Adam Fure. Catie Newell is the founding principal of *Alibi Studio, based in Detroit. MILLIGRAM-office is the architecture practice of Meredith Miller and James Graham, based in Ann Arbor, MI and New York, NY. Thom Moran is a designer based in Ann Arbor, MI. SCHAUM/SHIEH is the architecture practice of Troy Schaum and Rosalyne Shieh, based in Houston, TX and Ann Arbor, MI.