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    DETROIT: from now to then

    HS Solie
    Feb 21, '13 2:20 PM EST

    As part of my thesis research into the past, present and future realities of Detroit housing, I have started to use representational devises as a means of speculation.  The current work seeks out opportunities, not in the present or future, but embedded in the past.  

    This current work explores possibilities for what I am calling functionalDETERIORATIONS which are those operations that seek to reframe distress as additive or generative to architecture instead of subtractive. 

    this is ongoing research and their will be much more coming, but for now some images... 




    you can check out the entire set at my new website...


    • vado retro

      This really kicks ass.

      Feb 21, 13 3:27 pm  · 

      Agree with vado as usual - this totally kicks ass.

      Feb 21, 13 3:52 pm  · 

      These are wicked! 

      Feb 21, 13 4:05 pm  · 


      Some of the images are both captivating and thought provoking.


      One question though, why have you chosen to work entirely in the digital realm and further, have you at all considered site-specific work?

      I get the feeling that exploring some of these same ideas through real materials and the houses and sites themselves could potentially add a whole new level to your research.  

      Feb 21, 13 5:09 pm  · 

      Oh lord. I especially like the random clipped on Bucky dome. You completely capture what Detroit is about - half burned out house/half blob or wiry lines.

      Feb 22, 13 7:35 am  · 

      As an expatriated detroiter I think the concept is interesting, but these explorations are rather blithe and mildly offensive.  instead of treating these houses as purely sculptural objects (i.e. ruin porn), I'd be much more interested in seeing some sort of additive "program" that reflects the people and culture of these neighborhoods and region.


      I'm sure you're well aware of the Heidelberg Project - but that was borne out of an act of desperation - not a student sitting comfortably in their studio making pretty pictures on a computer 40 miles away in ann arbor

      Feb 22, 13 10:00 am  · 

      Hey Guys,

      Thanks for a great feedback! These are exactly the type of responses that can help move my thesis forward.

      IamGray: Your thoughts are right on track. The digital exploration to date has been a way to projectively envision these sites in different ways. However the main objective of my thesis is to produce a site-specific work in Detroit. The project will hopefully reflect the work of my thesis advisor, Catie Newell (

      I have just begun looking into potential sites and work will (hopefully) commence within the next several weeks. As you said, the injection of real materials and circumstances will add a new dimension to the project.

      toasteroven: As I mentioned above, the work shown here is just a portion of a larger thesis endeavour that will hopefully move away from ideas of "ruin porn" and into areas which reframe how we look at the post-industrial city.

      also, my chair is not very comfortable...

      Feb 22, 13 4:32 pm  · 

      rad stuff.... check out this project, I think it has some correlation to your work:

      Feb 23, 13 12:01 am  · 

      toaster obviously makes great points.  I'm decidedly *not* a fan of Detroit ruin porn, as a Cranbrook grad I have spent plenty of time considering Detroit and think it's a fascinating place that needs real creativity about how to change.  There have been many interesting approaches, with varying success.  I hope your thesis project goes well.

      But I was really just looking at these as generic-city houses, not Detroit specific.

      Feb 23, 13 10:23 am  · 

      Detroit is a very complex beast - it is not your generic “post industrial city."  The city is currently being taken over by the state government - it’s probably the first city in america where its citizens will have absolutely no control over who their leadership is.


      You want to “reframe” how we look at the “post industrial city?” start with something that actually empowers the people who live there.

      Feb 23, 13 11:38 am  · 

      Very cool images. From them I see a photoshopped, glorified ruin porn. I'm sure you could write about it, but I don't see the speculative dimension about the future of Detroit housing. You make Detroit look very sinister and toxic - which is partly true - but from a restorative point of view, a false direction. These streets are more somber than toxic. And your resolution is a bit airy. As a Detroiter, I'm more interested in what occurs in the physical environment. 

      Feb 23, 13 4:06 pm  · 

      I'm always suspect about work based in Detroit that talks about propositions.  I would argue that Detroit should forget about its past and reinvent itself.  Is your work purely aesthetically driven  as is what appears to be the case in Catie Newell's work? 

      Feb 24, 13 11:57 am  · 

      Wow! I actually love these depictions of Detroit and their housing situation. These images kinda have a "Akira - Ghost In The Shell" Anime feel to them. I assuming "Film Noir" was the concept for these pieces. Anyway these are are great. Will put this page on my  computer's favorite list.

      Feb 27, 13 12:16 pm  · 

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About this Blog

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.

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