Document Type

Thesis Prep




Fall 2018


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. Most have failed to recognize that voids are not useless and there is potential value in keeping them as voids.

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? Allowing nature to reclaim the voids of a blighted city could generate tensions that allow for a new kind of ecological urbanism. We propose a future for the city of Detroit that lets nature take its course by rewilding remains of a post industrial city. By using current contextual logic we speculate on reorganizing the city into nodes of urban villages and allowing the voids in between them to be spaces of regeneration for communities within Detroit and greater ecologies. We consider the qualities of the disregarded to claim that something can be made out of nothing. We explore how boundaries can work to let the urban and the natural coexist.

We are also critical of the viability of landscape architecture’s solutions to remaking urban land into large parks. While the practice of landscape architecture offers compelling design solutions from an urban and ecological perspective, it often resolves itself in form of expensive parks which are not a replicable model. The idea of rewilding is taken very literally. While we understand landscape architecture as crafting nature, we understand rewilding as letting nature have its own agency. We are more interested in the idea of doing nothing and the work it takes for rewilding to take place on its own. In resolving the system for rewilding to take place we have the opportunity to revisit the place of architecture.


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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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