URBAN JUNGLEGYM_ detoit, mi_ competition entry


This project was created for the rouse[D] competition/exhibition.  The challenge was create a project that could “rouse the city of Detroit and encourage an evolution of our understanding of its unique urban environment.”  It could be at any scale and could be for any site in Detroit.  This is what we proposed:

URBAN JUNGLEGYM:Using the bones of abandoned buildings as the structural skeleton for new urban living

This proposal suggests exploiting the abandonment that is destroying the urban fabric of Detroit by reusing their structural grid to support a new system of exible urban living. This system uses existing concrete structures, removing the floor slabs to create a three dimensional open grid, which serves as the framework for “plug-ins” of premanufactured units and pockets of urban activity. Detroit has long been an industrial mega center, fueled by extensive transportation lines of many kinds. However, recent history has seen the vast deterioration of the city’s fabric and infrastructure. This proposal exploits this condition through the plethora of abandoned buildings, the wide availability of shipping containers, and the easy transportation of such containers through the established lines of transportation. This proposal also presents a new flexibility to the use of such buildings. The open grid would be loosely zoned with slots available to rent, producing a multi-use environment. Preserved sections would be intentionally left empty to serve as atriums of light and green space. This type of habitation accounts for fluctuations in real estate demand.

This specific site serves as an example for this system’s potential throughout all of Detroit. The immense Packard Motor Car Company Plant (1903 – 1910) is centrally located within Detroit. Designed by the prominent industrial architect, Albert Kahn, the building was constructed between 1903 and 1910. Upon completion this building was celebrated for its large open spans, innovative reinforced concrete, and quality of daylight. The Packard car became a celebrated luxury automobile between World War I and II, and served as a symbol of the city’s innovation and production and eventually its decline. The Packard Plant was closed in August of 1956 and has been abandoned since. Currently, the massive complex is home to stray dogs, homeless squatters, and urban explorers.