Document Type

Thesis, Senior




Spring 2019


ecological urbanism, Detroit, rewilding, co-existence of nature and urban, remaking urban land, architecture






Detroit’s complicated history of corruption, racial tensions and economic decline have made conventional strategies for growth, repopulation and infill inadequate for dealing with ongoing and overwhelming urban vacancy. Dealing with voids within shrinking cities have been difficult because it lies outside the existing experience and vocabulary of urban planning, architecture and socioeconomics. Our thesis explores the potential of voids within a blighted city. We recognize the value in intentionally keeping voids as voids in a city and allowing the built environment to take a step back and allowing “nothing” to take its place.

What is the current conditions of these voids? How do we make use of it without erasing it? How can we revisit ideas of a city that embraces its existing voids? How do cities retreat and reorganize in a productive ways? What agency does design have in a void, if any at all? We do not distinguish between ‘nature’ and ‘urban’ because our understanding of nature has always derived from our relationship with it. We choose to understand nature, not as something that is pristine and untouched- but rather something that grows out of human intervention and has productive value.

The aim of the authors is to prioritize productive landscapes that allow for ecologies to have their own agency without the need to rely on funds and maintenance by the city. This primarily includes forests and forest farms. The introduction of these new types of landscapes would then generate new uses and urban conditions out of the tension generated between the city the forest.

They propose a framework for new urban landscape for future Detroit, about 50 to 100 years from now. The framework would allow for flexibility and versatility in land use over time. The frameworks goal is to reorganize the city into healthier neighborhoods that ultimately favor active landscapes over density.

Additional Information

Thesis Advisors:

Larry Davis

Mitesh Dixit

Lawrence Chua

Advisory Group: Alternative Urbanisms


Local Input

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.

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