This is the first of a 3-part series I plan on doing that (finally) presents my thesis work, which concluded this past May. I have been planning this out for a while, however since I graduated and starting working full-time I have found it extremely hard to motivate myself to do anything after work except sit on my couch and catch up on 6 years of TV shows on Netflix. You think reading Foucault is mind blowing? Try binge watching Breaking Bad and Lost at the same time....BOOM!
I would have caught up on these shows earlier, but isn't depriving one's self of basic human comforts like sleep, food and Walter White the essence of graduate school? Now that I am a working professional however, I thought it would be alright to splurge on a few small comforts like haircuts and romaine lettuce (it's the little things in life, right?).
Anyways, back to my thesis. The work presented in the next few posts is intended to both showcase the final results of the ideas developed during my thesis effort, and also provide insight into what I was thinking while the work was unfolding. To the end, the tentative schedule for these posts is as follows:
The first post (this one) will give an overview of the goals and ambitions of the thesis effort. It will also attempt to describe the ideas through drawing and imagery.
The second post will expand on those ideas through its final outcome, a full-scale installation within the city of Detroit.
The third post will lighten the mood with a hilarious story of the 12 hours before I presented my thesis. (hint: it involves ties, head trauma and a jerk in a Prius).
Here we go...
Similar to many other cities that saw incredible growth and expansion during the decades surrounding the Industrial Revolution, Detroit has also seen incredible decline in its absence. A critical aspect of this decline is the connection between the proliferation of industry and the subsequent cultural and social paradigms formed through its production. These paradigms took architectural form through tightly packed clusters of affordable housing for the workers in Detroit’s great industrial factories. A city which once prided itself on its residential communities, the transient nature of Detroit’s working population combined with the instability of the city’s industrial centers has led to the disintegration of density across the neighborhoods surrounding these centers. The once vast tracks of housing have dematerialized into isolated pockets of lone houses left to occupy entire residential blocks, and in doing so severed connections between the residents of the city.
The result has been a loss of defined space. This project looks at one such space in particular, the space which exists between houses. This is a space which has been formed through the proximity of one house to another. It is also a space which has become scarce in Detroit due to the demolition of the city’s housing stock.Through a variety of representational strategies, this work attempts to draw out the latent potential of this space and celebrate it before it is lost forever.
Borrowing representional strategies from John Soane and his Bank of England project, some of the drawing efforts begin to see these spaces within a larger context of the city. The drawings collapse the timeline of these spaces and, in doing so, the history of the city. While the present condition of these spaces is the starting point for the work, these drawings bring out and activate both its past and its future by methods of collage, appropriation and relational thinking. By distorting the chronology of these spaces, the work allows for a reinterpretation by the viewer. Much like in Soane’s work, these drawings are caught in time and it remains unclear whether the objects exist in the present, are ruins of the past or placeholders for future development.
While the key role of these drawings is to collapse timelines and distort the chronology of these spaces, there is also a secondary objective at play. This is the physical manifestation of the space itself.
Represented in these drawings is the framework for an architecture which takes physical form through the interpretation of spatial experience. It is an architecture which emerges from the spaces created through density. Embodied within its form are the physical and emotional reactions to what it feels like to be in these spaces. While the buildings all around are fading away and density is lost, this architecture remembers the spaces of the city.
I am a graduate student and an entrepreneur at the University of Michigan Taubman College where my studies are focused on leveraging design ideas across multiple scales and platforms. Meeting at the intersection between design, tectonics and fabrication, I am continually exploring how a design idea can navigate complex material and production systems and evolve into fully realized architectural artifacts.